It’s hard to ignore the popularity that is Netflix’s Squid Game. It’s a unique storyline that has quickly solidified itself as the most-watched Netflix title of all time. Of course, there’s a reason it’s so popular – it’s got the right mix of intrigue, fear, and mystery. But – it’s not for kids. Even still, with the show’s TV-MA rating, children are mimicking the show on the playground at schools, and now teachers are issuing warnings to parents. Here’s what you need to know.
Primary schools in the US, Australia, Asia, and Europe have all issued warnings to parents about the Netflix series, asking parents to make sure their kids don’t watch Squid Game. The South Korean show depicts “extreme violence and gore,” following adults riddled with debt playing scary life-or-death versions of popular playground games. It’s an interesting show for adults and has some meanings behind it other than shock factor violence, but that’s not a nuance most kids will pick up on.
The BBC reports letters have been sent home to parents that urge parents to think twice before letting their kids watch Squid Game because it’s having consequences at school. Gareth Nichols, Headteacher of Sir Francis Hill primary in the UK, said “a small group of pupils within school, aged around six” were talking about the show and “re-enacting some scenes.”
“Although some of the ‘games’ portrayed could be viewed as adaptations of traditional playground games,” Nichols continued, “the violent consequences of failure are inappropriate for younger viewers.”
John Bramston Primary School in Essex, England, also reported kids playing their versions of Squid Game and issued a note to parents. “Children who are watching this are being exposed to graphic, realistic scenes of violence, and sadly children are acting out this behavior in the playground, which will not be tolerated,” the note said, according to The Independent.
Earlier this month, a school in Belgium sent a warning to parents on social media, too. The notification said students at Communale d’Erquelinnes Centre were found playing Squid Game-style games on the playground where the consequences of losing resulted in getting punched.
“We are very vigilant to stop this unhealthy and dangerous game,” the school officials wrote on Facebook. “We rely on your support and collaboration to raise awareness of the consequences this can bring about! Penalties will be imposed on the children who will continue this game (to hit other children… obviously 1-2-3 sun is allowed)!”
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Linda Wickham, a principal at Dulwich Hill Public School issued a warning to parents and asking them to change their Netflix settings to ensure kids aren’t watching the series at home.
“Violent language and aggressive behaviors may be easily mimicked by children, particularly outside the confines of your home and in the wider space of a school playground,” Wickham said.
Parents have taken to social media to share similar warnings they’ve received from their kids’ schools. And the reactions are mixed. Some parents think that this series has become a problem at school. Others don’t like to be told what they can or can’t allow their children to watch at home.
“I can think of nothing more likely to make primary school children want to watch Squid Games than a letter from the school to parents asking them not to let children watch Squid Games and talk of a special PSHE lesson on the issues raised by Squid Games,” one parent wrote.
“School has sent out a letter warning that some of the kids have been playing games at school that involve re-enacting some of the deaths from Squid Game,” another parent shared on Twitter. “I mean, I don’t want to get all Victorian Dad here, but how the hell do they get to see this stuff in the first place?”
With a series as popular as Squid Game it felt inevitable for some of it to spill over to our kids in some way or another. But if kids are not old enough to know these games aren’t safe to play at the playground, they’re probably too young to watch.