One thing that’s never been directly addressed with Plex is Parental Control.

On a superficial level, I understand this.

Using the TV as a babysitter is not good parenting, and there’s a perception from non-parents that this is what happens every time a child sits in front of the TV, so programmers are reluctant to ‘pander’ to this.

However, while I certainly can’t deny that some parents do this, it’s certainly not the only use case scenario.

In our case; having an intuitive and controllable media centre gives the opportunity for discovery..

For example, we can curate a list of documentaries, cooking shows, kids shows, independent media, and whatever else so that when the time comes to pick something to watch, it’s just as likely that someone will choose something intellectually stimulating as it is that they choose something a little more mushy.

Since we specifically choose the content that get’s rated G, we can, without any fear at all, let our kids explore freely.

Can you say that with cable TV, or with any other solution?

 

 

Ok, so let’s get down to the details of the setup that we’ve done.

First, of course, we have the Plex server. This serves media via plex, and to everything else via network shares.

I had to completely rethink the folder structure, and re-prioritized it because of the now most important thing: letting our 5 year old daughter have the ability to directly choose what’s on.

So far, there is a completely separate Plex Library section for each Rating:

  • Movies – G Rated
  • Movies – PG Rated
  • Movies – R Rated
  • TV Shows – G Rated
  • TV Shows – PG Rated
  • TV Shows – R Rated

There’s also a section for downloads (This is another UX perspective that I feel should be worked on)

  • Movies – Downloads
  • TV Shows – Downloads

“All well and great” you say, “but what stops a kid from going in to R Rated when I’m not looking?”

First of all; I don’t feel young kids should be on when you’re not looking, but you have a point.

In this case we have created separate myplex user accounts, and we share the section with those accounts.

 

Example: the user account plexuserG would have access to:

  • Movies – G Rated
  • TV Shows – G Rated.

The user account plexuserPG would have access to:

  • Movies – G Rated
  • Movies – PG Rated
  • TV Shows – G Rated
  • TV Shows PG Rated

Our master account, of course has access to everything.

This is a little complex, but it works fairly well once local network discovery is turned off.

On the Roku, the iPad, iPhone, etc; we sign in to myplex as the G-Rated user by default, and switch when needed (and switch back when we are done).

 

This requires a fair amount of back-end work, especially if you are moving from a different organization scheme, but the font-end work is surprisingly minimal.

 

As a side note for the detail-oriented people; I’ve set up NFS Shares for each rating, and the folder structure works like this:

192.168.0.100:/export/G-Rated/Keep/Movies

Where “G-Rated” is the rating, “Keep” is either “Keep” for the permanent library, or “Try_Out” for the stuff we haven’t watched yet (Saturday movie night), and “Movies” is either “Movies” or “TV_Shows”.

Example 2:

192.168.0.100:/export/R-Rated/Try_Out/TV_Shows