Squid Game: what parents need to know about the hot Netflix series

The Netflix series Squid Game from South Korea is currently the topic of conversation in the media and on many schoolyards. Many parents are worried about the violent plot, which apparently also encourages imitation.

What is Squid Game about?

Almost 500 people, who are on the brink of their existence with high gambling debts, are invited to compete against each other in seemingly harmless children's games. The prize money at stake is a staggering 33 million euros. The crux of the matter is that whoever loses is not only eliminated, but executed in cold blood.

According to Netflix, the 9-part series is now the most successful Netflix series of all time. After just under a month since its premiere on September 17, the series has reached 111 million viewers in over 90 countries. The reason for this, apart from the basic hype about Korean culture(K-pop), is probably the perfectly staged imagery and the simple-to-understand but nevertheless multi-layered socio-critical plot.

What fascinates children and young people about violent series?

Netflix officially recommends the series Squid Game for ages 16 and up. However, experience shows that this and other violent media content is often consumed by much younger children and young people. There are essentially two motives behind this:

  • The emotional "kick" and the crossing of boundaries:
    People want to experience something exciting. The desire for distraction, protest and demarcation plays a central role.
  • The shared existence of extreme situations: 
    Watching the videos becomes a communal experience. Particularly extreme content also makes a good topic of conversation in the group or is used for recognition (being able to have a say). This also includes sending shocking videos to younger classmates as a kind of test of courage.

How can I protect my child?

Don't be afraid - a violent series alone will certainly not make a child violent!

If you don't like the content, but your child is fascinated by it, a pure ban is usually useless - especially if series like Squid Game already occupy the whole class. Talk to your child and have them explain the series to you. Explain your concerns and worries. A good basis for conversation is the most important thing here! Children who engage in such violent content out of peer pressure are happy when parents vehemently intervene and ban series watching. When children replay Squid Game games in the schoolyard, they should leave out physical violence or punishment.

Set up a separate kids account on Netflix and determine what content your child can access. Again, talk to your child, take his or her fears seriously, and together come up with strategies to manage them, e.g., put the device away, do other activities together, etc..

There are increasing reports in the press that the series has led to violent confrontations among schoolchildren. With some of these media reports, you should critically question by whom and with what aim the content was published. Sometimes it is so-called clickbaiting, i.e. particularly lurid headlines about a hype, which are supposed to entice readers to click on it and open the article.

This text is based on an article by our partner saferinternet.at.

Teaching unit for educational professionals

Address the topic of challenges with our new teaching unit. This exercise on the assessment of different challenges gives the opportunity to discuss the problematic aspects of such games as Squid Game.

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