Smart TVs are just like regular TVs but they’re connected to the internet. This means you can use them to send emails, browse the web, watch YouTube and download apps. The technology opens up a world of opportunity, but is also a minefield for parents who let their children use one.
More and more homes have smart TVs. According to Ofcom they are in 42% of UK households, up from 5% in 2012.* So if you've got a smart TV in your house, how do you make sure your kids don’t see anything they shouldn’t?
Smart TVs: Features to be aware of
Parental controls: Like PCs and smartphones, smart TVs let you set up parental controls to stop children seeing what they shouldn’t. The manual for your smart TV should tell you how to do this, so search the manufacturers website or consult the free database over at Manuals Online.
Content: Smart TVs offer plenty of children’s channels, so have a look and see which offer the most suitable content for the best price (if they charge, that is - some are free). Some also let you set up user accounts for children of different ages, and secure the set with a PIN.
Apps: Terrestrial catch-up apps like BBC iPlayer (and BBC iPlayer Kids), All 4 and ITV Player are free to watch, but ones like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video charge a subscription. Whichever you install, make sure you’ve adjusted the settings so your kids can’t watch anything unsuitable.
E-safety organisation Internet Matters has step-by-step instructions to help you activate parental controls on a wide range of entertainment devices and platforms including Netflix.
Browsing: Smart TVs connect to your home broadband connection. If you set up parental filters for your broadband, your smart TV — like any device connected to your router wired or wirelessly — won’t be able to display unsuitable websites or content. If you’ve got BT Broadband you can find out more below.
Internet connectivity: You can connect your smart TV to your hub either using wi-fi or through a wired ethernet cable. Ethernet is usually faster and more reliable, but wi-fi means no unsightly cables trailing through the house.
BT Broadband Parental Controls
To keep your children safe BT Broadband customers can use our free Parental Controls.
BT Parental Controls lets you select a filter level, choosing between Light, Moderate, Strict or Custom, which determines the type of content to block. You can also block specific websites and set homework filters, during which time access to the internet will be unavailable.
If you select the 'Strict' or Custom filter, you'll block all media streaming, including all sites that stream content, be it internet radio, internet TV, or music, so your child won't be able to stream YouTube on a smart TV. Media downloads, and music sites run by fans, musicians, bands or record labels will also be blocked.
BT TV Parental Controls
You can set a Parental PIN on your BT TV set-top box. Setting a PIN allows you to restrict access to programmes with age ratings, those that haven't been given age ratings and recordings made during the watershed. This is different to a Payment PIN you use to buy shows on the BT TV player.
By default the PIN is 1234. When you set your box up for the first time, you'll need create a new PIN along with a security question.
How to change your BT TV Parental Control pin
- From the Home (or YouView) button, and go to Settings - Parental Controls - Change Parental Control PIN
- Enter your original PIN. If you’ve never set one up, this will be 1234
- Add a new PIN
How to set to set-up BT TV Parental Controls
From the Home (or YouView) button, and go to Settings - Parental Controls - Restrict Rated Programmes. Options include:
- Restrict Rated Programmes: Set the age level restriction and a PIN will be needed to watch shows with a higher age rating.
- Guidance and Watershed: Activate this and you'll need a PIN to watch anything rated guidance or you recorded after the watershed.