Netflix is testing out a new feature called ‘patches’ for some children’s TV shows, but it’s left parents fearing kids could be encouraged to binge watch.
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The new patches icon has started appearing on a number of Netflix original children shows like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Trolls recently.
The shows which reward viewers with patches are shown by a unlocked padlock icon that appears on the preview image for the programme.
Once an episode is watched, a patch is earned with patches for any remaining episodes left to collect.
The new Netflix feature appears to gamify the streaming experience, which studies have shown can incentivise viewers to watch a show.
A piece of research from the University of South Australia and Université Toulouse in France last year looked into the topic.
It said: “The positive effect of gamification on engagement appeared to lessen over time.
“This result is not surprising, given that extrinsic rewards such as badges and points tend to wear off after a short period of novelty.”
Some Netflix fans have taken to Twitter to voice concern that the new feature could encourage children to binge watch shows.
One user tweeted: “@netflix hi. i have been a netflix subscriber for over ten years. i will cancel my subscription if patches stick around. i don’t need you actively encouraging my child to waste time in front of the television.”
While another posted: “So @netflix is offering kids “patches” for binge watching shows. The only “patch” a kid needs is one made of grass instead of sitting in front of the TV for hours on end. Such a dumb idea.”
One added: “@netflix Netflix Patches are an emotionally manipulative marketing tool that is being used to sell Netflix’s partners’ toys to kids.
“Why are we doing this instead of incentivizing watching educational material???”
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood group have also spoken out about the Netflix patches feature.
Speaking to Gizmodo, the organisation’s executive director Josh Golin said: “It’s designed to turn kids into lobbyists and undermine parents’ limits.
“The CCFC is a nonprofit concerned about corporations who market to children.
“It’s just incredible to me that as we’re having this national conversation about persuasive design of tech and how tech is often designed for the benefit of tech companies at the expense of users well-being, that Netflix would test something like this.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a Netflix spokesperson 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.”