Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Has Parents Asking: Should You Let Your Kids Watch?
Thursday - 21/10/2021 14:07
Kids are coming home begging to watch the violent Korean thriller. For some parents, trying to block it entirely is a battle not worth fighting.
Parents have endured a pandemic, school shutdowns and child-care disruptions. Now they have to grapple with “Squid Game.”
Jaime Bilicki’s 11-year-old son recently came home from school asking if he could watch the show, a new hit on Netflix. She wasn’t familiar with it. “I’m thinking something to do with SpongeBob,” said Ms. Bilicki.
SpongeBob it is not. The Korean dystopian drama depicts the killing of adults who compete in children’s games. The first episode culminates in a spray of blood and bullets as guns mow down competitors in a grisly game of red light, green light. Netflix rates it MA for mature audiences and said the series is its most-watched show within a 28-day launch.
It is generating buzz among kids, too, who hear about it from older siblings, on the playground, in memes on social media or through gaming platforms. Parents say their kids are coming home begging to watch it, or trying to sneak in episodes on their own. Some kids want to dress as the show’s characters for Halloween.
Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that rates shows and other content to help parents assess age-appropriate viewing, said its review for “Squid Game” is its most-viewed of any show in a one-month period. “Parents want to know what is ‘Squid Game’, what is going on with ‘Squid Game’,” said Polly Conway, senior TV editor for Common Sense Media.
The site rated it appropriate only for children ages 16 and older. “Parents need to know that the level of violence is very intense in ‘Squid Game’,” it advises.
Scores of commenters on Common Sense’s site have offered their own opinions.
“Those who say it’s fine for kids 13 and up must have very hardy 13 year olds,” wrote one commenter. Another provided an episode-by-episode guide to “squeamish” scenes to skip: “A bunch more contestants get shot in the head,” it advised for Episode 3. “It’s pretty good, just depends if ur mature or not,” wrote a commenter identified as a 12-year-old.
The children’s games featured in the show’s plotline, striking visual elements that lend themselves to Internet memes—including a giant robot-like doll—and parodies shared on social media are part of what draw kids in, pop culture and parenting analysts say. And kids have gotten so used to watching content on phones during the pandemic that some parents say trying to block “Squid Game” entirely is a losing battle.
Ms. Bilicki, who lives in Milwaukee, watched 15 minutes of the first episode and decided it was OK for her son, Troy, to watch. She reasoned that he already plays “Fortnite” and has seen horror movies, including 1981’s “An American Werewolf in London,” which she remembers being terrified by herself as a teenager.
“He was bored with it,” she said. “He knows how scenes are constructed. He knows what is fake and it doesn’t faze him at all.”