Roku and Roku TV
The Complete Guide to Roku Parental Controls
Great news for families! Roku has added a Kids and Family section on the Roku Channel and has added parental controls to it. This is a big deal on a streaming TV platform that has been void of solid parental controls since inception.
The content in the Kids and Family section is an aggregate of child-friendly content from other channels on Roku. Everything is chosen by an in-house editorial team. This section will be “lighter” on ads and will only show ads that are “kid-appropriate, and are vetted and served internally by Roku.”
It will be really important for families to enable these parental controls since Roku is also home to a lot of explicit content.
In addition to the new Kids and Family parental controls, parents can set a 4-digit pin that limits the addition of new channels to the Roku account (explained below).
A few important definitions:
- 4-Digit Pin – this is set in order to limit what channels are added to the Roku account. This pin does NOT prevent X-rated channels already loaded from being watched nor does it prevent browsing X-rated channel titles.
- Roku Private or Hidden Channels – there are thousands of channels that can be browsed and added at the viewers discretion. These are referred to collectively as private or hidden channels. Companies can develop and distribute their own content through this channel listing.
- The Roku Channel – this is Roku’s version of Disney+ or Hulu. It’s their collection of streaming shows and is available on Roku TVs.
How to Set your Roku Pin
Setting the 4-digit pin is important for preventing young people from adding and watching pornographic content.
- Log in to your Roku account through a web browser on a computer or mobile device.
- Select Update underneath PIN Preference and then select the option to always require a PIN to make purchases and to add items from the Channel Store.
- Enter a 4-digit number to create the PIN, select Verify PIN to confirm, and then select Save Changes.
How to Remove Roku Hidden Channels Using the Pin
Once the PIN has been established, channels can be removed. Items like the Movie Store, TV Store, and News – can also be hidden from the main screen.
- Using the Roku remote, select My Channels from the Roku home screen.
- Navigate to the channel you want to have removed and then click the Options button (the * key) on the remote.
- Select Remove Channel and then click OK. Do this once more when prompted to confirm removal of the channel.
- Repeat the above steps for any other channels you want to have removed. Channels can also be removed via the Roku app for Android/iOS.
- To hide items (Movie/TV Store and News), access the Roku device’s Settings Menu and select Home Screen. From there, select Hide for the Movie/TV Store and/or News Feed. You can always choose to Show them again.
BUT, the issue for parents is that although the 4-digit pin prevents inappropriate channels from being added and watched, it doesn’t prevent someone from browsing the channels. Here is just a sample of the private channel titles (and related descriptions) that anyone can browse.
TRIGGER WARNING – these titles are suggestive.
These are quite tame compared to what else is available. The difficulty with the lack of parental controls is that I don’t want any young person even browsing these titles, which could give rise to unhealthy curiosity.
Parental Controls for The Roku Channel
If you want to watch shows on The Roku Channel, your PIN must be entered when someone tries watching content with certain ratings. There are four ratings levels, shown in the table below:
- = Content with this rating on The Roku Channel can be watched without a PIN
- = A PIN is required to watch content with this rating on The Roku Channel
Two additional notes about Roku Channel parental controls:
- Movies and TV show titles restricted by your PIN preferences are not hidden or filtered when browsing or searching content on The Roku Channel, even if you can’t watch them (we can’t stand this, but Netflix and most other streaming services have the same issue).
- The Roku Channel parental controls apply only to video viewing within The Roku Channel, and does not affect video playback in any other streaming app!
Additional Steps for the Roku TV
If you have a Roku TV, you can restrict access based on TV/movie ratings. Programs will be blocked if they fall outside the specified rating limits.
Follow these steps:
- Press the Home button on your Roku TV remote.
- Scroll up or down and select Settings, then Parental controls.
- Select Enable Parental Controls and then turn it on. Then, set the desired TV/movie ratings limits and/or choose to block unrated programs. Blocked programs will not show video, audio, or title/description (unless the Roku PIN is entered).
What About Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and YouTube?
Parents will want to set parental controls on each of these accounts, which are not governed by anything with the Roku device. These channels are simply using Roku as another exit point for their content therefore it’s entirely up to parents to ensure the accounts on each of these streaming services is set up appropriately.
- Netflix: How do I set parental controls on my Netflix account?
- Amazon: How do I set Amazon Video Parental Controls?
- Hulu: Does Hulu have parental controls?
- Sling TV: How do I activate parental controls on my Roku?
- HBO GO: How do I use parental controls with HBO GO? (there are various articles about controls here)
- YouTube: Make sure the Google (Gmail) account that you’re using to sign in to Roku has Restricted Mode enabled, which is in Settings (the gear) in YouTube.
If you ever want to review a child’s Google activity, which includes their YouTube viewing, you can access it here: Google My Activity
Roku Parental Controls Bottom Line for Parents
The recent Kids and Family change is good. Although some parents might avoid using these new parental controls since Roku devices lack the ability to create individual profiles, which means parents will be subject to the same controls (unless they decide to disable/re-enable each time).
Now What? 2 amazing ways to keep up:
- Stay current on the digital landscape by registering for our free, weekly parent webinars.
- Download the Protect App today! Over 400 mini-lessons for your busy, awesome family!
*There may be affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!