And neither should yours
I first heard about Squid Game when I came across the story about the writer/creator/director, Hwang Dong-hyuk, who tried for ten years to have it produced and even had to sell his computer $675 to pay his bills. As a writer, I always like an underdog story and to see how people overcome obstacles to meet their dreams.
Hwang had difficulty selling the idea for ten years because it was deemed too violent. However, Netflix gave it the green light two years ago, and Squid Game, since its airing on September 17th, has quickly gained popularity, rising to the number one spot in 90 countries in just ten days. It has already found its way to Roblox, Fortnite, memes, and reels on social media. If children haven’t already seen the show, they are being exposed to it through other platforms.
Squid Game is gaining so much popularity that elementary school children are playing a version of it on the playground. Teachers are watching children play red light/green light at recess and falling as if they are dead when caught.
A teacher at my children’s school said that her elementary students were discussing the show, and she started watching it to know what they were talking about. While she likes the show, she does not deem it appropriate for young audiences. Nonetheless, she has first graders talking about it.
The show was created as a commentary on capitalism, demonstrating that people would do anything to pull themselves out of poverty in one last grasp for hope.
Too violent for children and tweens...no should watch Squid Game until late adolescence--David Anderson, Ph.D., Head of School and Community Programs at the Child Mind Institute
However, this dystopian theme is played out in gruesome detailed violence. According to the head of School and Community Programs at the Child Mind Institute, David Anderson, Ph.D., Squid Game is “Too violent for children and tweens” and that “No one should watch Squid Game until late adolescence” at the earliest.
Common Sense Media says that “Parents need to know that the level of violence is very intense in Squid Game. Characters are systematically tortured and killed for the sadistic pleasure of a game master. Adults have sex, and there are threats of sexual violence: Women are grabbed by the hair and beaten. Themes concerning the highs one gets from gambling, winning, or conning money are a main focus.”
Dr. Anderson further says that the show's unwanted thoughts or images can “become triggers for anxiety and are a good sign that kids should not be watching because the show isn’t healthy for them.”
Elementary school children and even those in middle school will be better off not watching violent television shows. There is no need to expose them to violence when they are still developing a sense of self and safety.
For the mother who posted on social media that her preschooler was mesmerized by the show and wrote, “It’s just tv, it’s not like I exposed them to REAL violence” is wrong. Violence is still violence and unnecessarily exposing young children to violence makes them more desensitized to it.
In my experience as an educator and mother, children tend to act out what they see to process images and emotions. When emotions are big and verbalizing proves to be difficult, children act out what they observe. In the case of Squid Game, it can have detrimental effects causing anxiety, the desensitization to violent acts, and early exposure to mature themes that they are not ready to comprehend.
If we want our children to grow up to be kind adults who help one another, show them examples of kindness, not the senseless killing of desperate adults who are trying to claw their way out of poverty for the amusement of a game master.
My children will not be watching Squid Game. And for those who are intrigued by the show, consider holding off on having your children watch it until they are mature enough to handle the graphic themes shown throughout the series.
What are your thoughts? Have you seen the show? Will you let your children watch it? Let me know in the comments.