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Thinking of letting your kids watch Squid Game? Here's what you need to know first.

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched a full season of a TV show. I have a habit of watching the first episode and then deciding that it’s too slow, too boring, or the banter is just too weak to withstand my high demand for intensely funny one-liners.

But then the whispers started. First from my colleagues. Then from my friends. They were all talking about this brand new show on Netflix called Squid Game.

I had no idea what it was about, but the chatter was way too much to ignore.

Watch the trailer for Netflix's Squid Game. Post continues after video. 


Video via Netflix.

"Best show I’ve seen in ages," one work friend said.

"A really good, extreme representation of society today," another shared.

"The only show where I’ve really understood what it could be like to feel like you had no other choice," an old school pal wrote on social media.

That was it. I was in. What I was getting in for, I didn’t know, but the anticipation was killing me. I was hooked before I’d even started.

And then I watched it.

Did I enjoy it? Yeah, I did. The storyline was captivating, the human connection undeniable. 

But the blood. And the violence. And the torture, both mental and physical. It was... a lot. Definitely worthy of its MA15+ rating.

Unsurprisingly, the hype of the show has reached the ears of kids Australia-wide, and they too want in on the action. 

But is it suitable for their eyes? Well, that’s of course up to the discretion of a child’s parent. But before you do decide to let them watch it, let’s dive into what they could potentially be watching.

What is Squid Game about?

Based in South Korea, Squid Game is a nine-episode series on Netflix that centres around the bleak story of Seung Gi-hun.

A divorced dad who’s living with his aging mother, Seung Gi-hun is drowning in debt that he can’t pay and struggles with a gambling addiction.

One night down in the subway, Gi-hun is approached by a man asking him to play a popular South Korean children’s game with him. If he wins, he will give him $100,000. If he loses, the man gets to slap him across the face. It’s too much for Gi-hun to refuse and he plays, eventually winning.

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The man hands him his cash reward along with a mysterious brown card that has a number for him to call, if he wants to participate in a higher stakes game with a lot more money up for grabs.

Gi-hun is hesitant but then learns his daughter is moving to the US with his ex, so he makes the call and agrees to play the game in the hope of earning more money to support his daughter.

Waiting at a pickup point, Gi-hun is thrown into a minivan, and taken to a secret location. Once there, he learns that he is not the only participant and the games he will play can literally have him killed.

Playing the old children’s game Red Light, Green Light, participants, dressed in matching green tracksuits, need to follow the rules to proceed to the next round. If they fail, they are brutally shot on the spot.

Image: Netflix.  

From then on out, each round sees a new childhood game played and more players killed for losing - either by the guns in the hands of the guards that are monitoring them, or by the hands of the person who sleeps next to them.

It’s the ultimate game of survival, with ethics, brain power and willpower being put to the test in the hopes of being crowned the winner and sole survivor.

Squid Game has taken over Bridgerton as Netflix's most-watched original series and has been watched by over 111 million Netflix account holders since its release on September 17. It is literally a TV sensation.

Is Squid Game safe for kids?

The show does carry a rating of MA15+ which indicates that it is suitable for kids aged 15 and over, but, as a parent myself, I would advise that you check it out for yourself before deciding based purely on the age recommendation, as it does contain many themes that could be found distressing.

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As Kirra Pendergast, cyber safety expert and CEO of Safe on Social Media, advised on Facebook this week, "Parents should know that the level of violence is highly intense in Squid Game, and it is not suitable for young teens and primary school-age children."

The violence that Kirra referred to is of both a physical and sexual nature. There is a strong theme of the very rich taking advantage of the very desperate for their own amusement, something that can definitely be taken on board by young minds and replicated.

The main themes to consider before deciding if your kids should watch 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.

"Consider the impact and possible desensitisation to extreme violence, gambling, and addiction," Kirra advised.

"Make sure your children/students know that playing violent games like this at school is not okay under any circumstances."

Where are kids hearing about Squid Game?

As Squid Game has taken off in such a big way, it’s no surprise that it is popping up in many places outside of Netflix. It is sparking a lot of conversations in playgrounds, encouraging many kids to consume Squid Game content on other platforms.

TikTok: Snippets of Squid Game have been shared on TikTok by users, including extracts of certain scenes and video reviews. 

As videos can be viewed online without a TikTok account, be aware that your kids can watch these quite easily on any device, just by using the search function on TikTok.

Roblox: This popular online gaming site is now housing fan-made Squid Game experiences, where creators have lifted the games out of Squid Game and created digital versions for kids to play. Many of these games are already listed under the 'Popular' section of the site, making them easy for kids to find. Other remakes are also being listed under different names like 'Fish Game' or 'Hexa Game'.

YouTube: Like TikTok, YouTube is housing snippets and other Squid Game content that can easily be viewed by kids who access YouTube. And unfortunately, many disturbing pieces of content have been hidden within YouTube Kids content, so be aware of what your kids may be watching on this platform.

Instagram: A simple search within Instagram reveals that there are currently over 679,000 posts with the Squid Game hashtag. There is also an official Squid Game page and a whole heap of fan pages. The possibility of your kids viewing inappropriate content related to Squid Game on Instagram is very high, especially if they go searching for it.

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School: Many schools have reported children imitating 'Red Light, Green Light' in the playground, and punching kids when they fail within the game. Kids are also reading up on the rules of the actual game of Squid Game and are replicating it by pushing, shoving and tackling others.

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What your kids watch is entirely up to you, you are their parent and you know them best. If you do decide to let them watch Squid Game, maybe you can watch it with them and chat about the themes. It’s always good for kids to get a good understanding of what certain things represent and how it isn’t always something that can be replicated in society.

And 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.

Education is key to keeping our kids safe online and protecting what they view.

Confused about Snapchat? Unsure about TikTok? Meet the Safe on Social Toolkit: the digital ‘survival kit’ designed to arm parents with everything they need to know about keeping their kids safe online. Find out more now at www.safeonsocialtoolkit.com.

Feature Image: Netflix.

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