UPDATE: Netflix has decided to ditch its controversial ‘patches’ feature, which encouraged children to watch more Netflix-created content.
The company decided to pull it after attracting widespread criticism from users, who believed patches were designed to reward youngsters for binge-watching TV.
Original story follows below…
Netflix is facing criticism from child advocacy groups after it began testing collectable ‘patches’ for kids shows.
The streaming giant is accused of pushing children towards binge watching content with the patches that are unlocked during extended viewing.
Shows like Trolls, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Fuller House offer viewers the chance to unlock exclusive images by sitting through the episodes.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood says the test is designed to undermine parents, while training children to adopt unhealthy viewing habits.
“It’s designed to turn kids into lobbyists and undermine parents’ limits,” Josh Golin, Executive Director of the CCFC told Gizmodo.
He added: “Children like to collect things. So this will probably be incredibly effective at getting kids wanting to watch more and more Netflix. [Netflix] is using techniques that children certainly can’t understand and they’re developmentally vulnerable to, to get them to engage in activity which is not good for them.”
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Netflix said the patches, which are appearing to a limited number of subscribers at present, are designed to provide “an element of fun” for younger viewers.
The firm said: “We are testing a new feature on select kids titles that introduces collectible items for a more interactive experience, adding an element of fun and providing kids something to talk about and share around the titles they love. We learn by testing and this feature may or may not become part of the Netflix experience.”
While Netflix rejects the assertion that it is pushing the binge viewing concept on younger viewers, the CCFC argues parents should reconsider their subscriptions if the feature rolls out to all.
Golin said: “Honestly, If Netflix was to roll this out right now and make this a major part of their kids’ programming, parents should reconsider whether they have Netflix.”
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