Netflix’s most ever watched TV series Squid Game, has caused a world-wide stir. The show is so popular that Netflix is being sued by an internet provider in South Korea because it uses so much bandwidth. Reaching 11 million views in the first four weeks of airing, Squid Game should be on every parents’ radar. Here are four things you should know about Squid Game.
1. You may come under pressure to watch it
Everyone is or soon will be, talking about the show. There will be the usual FOMO (fear of missing out) and feeling the odd one out when others are talking about the show if you don’t watch Squid Game.
Marketing Executive Kaitlyn Witman felt pressured by her coworkers to watch the show and after watching the first episode she said, “It took me a week to recover.” Even after being so disturbed by the violence, Ms Witman felt compelled to keep watching so she wouldn’t feel left out at work. Ironically, the plot of Squid Game exploits those addicted to gambling and yet its followers seem addicted to watching a show that causes them emotional distress.
Give yourself permission to stick to your guns. Watching something so distressing for the sake of having something to talk about is simply not worth it. Your stand may even help others not give in to peer pressure.
2. The violence is traumatising
The second thing you should know about Squid Game is that it has been described as “truly traumatising and very violent” by a London correspondent who actually loved the series. He also said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as upsettingly violent.” Squid Game takes violence to a whole new level. It’s not the sanitised, glamorised violence of a James Bond movie or a Marvel blockbuster. It is just watching innocent victims being graphically slaughtered on a wholesale scale.
National cyber safety educators Safe on Social Media are quoted in a news.com article, as saying, “Even though adults have overwhelmingly positive reviews about this series, there is a lot of torture and murder that seem to be celebrated. The concept of the super-rich using misery of poor and desperate humans is certainly not new for horror … The amount of killing is horrific, and the methods are awful.”
Psychiatrists like Carole Lieberman are concerned that the extreme violence and grotesque close-ups of dying people could have a ripple effect in society. “Not everyone becomes a serial killer, but the aggression can show itself in road rage, air rage, domestic violence and so on,” she says. Plus, “the more hours of violent media we watch, the more we become convinced that we live in a mean world.”
3. Watching Squid Game can be addictive
The third thing you should know about Squid Game is that there is no doubt that for Squid Game to be so popular, there must be good acting, good backstories and a compelling plot, but it is a package deal. The extreme violence is a huge part of the show and even people who don’t enjoy the violence still feel compelled to keep watching.
Lieberman confirmed that Squid Game, “has an addictive quality to it that makes you come back for more – like when you can’t stop staring at a terrible car accident on the side of the road.”
This is so common that there are even online hacks to help people through violent parts. Tips like, focus on a corner of the screen or think about something else during the stressful scenes, are just a couple. If you have to have hacks to watch a show, should you be watching the show?
4. Your children may find a way to watch Squid Game
The final and very important thing you should know about Squid Game is that it has an MA15+ rating with themes of extreme violence and suicide. Yet, children as young as six have been mimicking the games in the playground. A News.com article said that, “Warnings have been issued by schools across the globe, including in Britain, Asia, Europe and the UK, following reports of students playing “unhealthy and dangerous” games inspired by the series. For example, in Germany, children were playing the ‘red light, green light’ game and when a child moved during the ‘red light’, they were punched. In other instances, the children are pushed or hit or kicked.
Many of you have children aged 15 and over but I would strongly encourage you to not allow them to watch the show either. Rikki Waller in a MamaMia article said, “Squid Game includes extreme violence, sex, murder, torture, gambling, addiction, suicide, and self-harm – all of which are featured within the series. The content is extreme and can be unexpected, which makes skipping scenes or turning away very hard to do. A lot of themes are also very naturally integrated into the show, giving it a sense of normalisation, which could be dangerous for young, impressionable viewers.”
Even if you don’t have Netflix, kids can access Squid Game snippets and references on TikTok, Roblox, YouTube and even Instagram. If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of social media and the platforms mentioned, check out the Safe on Social Parents Toolkit.
What should you do?
Most of you who are reading this are adults and will make up your own mind whether or not to watch Squid Game for yourself after this information. Regardless of your decision, I encourage you all to talk to your children about Squid Game now. Ask them if they have heard about the show, what they know about it, what their friends are saying. Use the opportunity to explore how they feel about onscreen violence. Talk to your children about trends and current TikTok challenges.
Check your parent controls and check in with your child often. The best way to protect your child emotionally and physically is to be there for them. Clair Orange from Digii Social says, “The greatest protective factor is a grown up who listens before lecturing, who connects before they correct, and who shows up equally emotionally steady in the best of times and worst of times.”
Mike Curtis, Principal