Squid Game might sound like a cute app for young children, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Squid Game is neither a game nor for kids. And if your child has a social media account like TikTok, or access to a Netflix account without restrictions, there’s a good chance they’ve already seen Squid Game, or at least potentially disturbing scenes from it. Trending videos from Squid Game on TikTok’s “For You” pages are showing teens and tweens graphic images that you probably do not want them to see.
What is Squid Game?
Netflix describes the South Korean drama as a series in which “hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games.” The scenes are graphic, and feature sex, threats of sexual violence, murder, and torture. It’s currently the top-rated Netflix show.
What should I do if my child has watched or wants to watch Squid Game?
It’s difficult to monitor everything your child sees, especially when it comes to social media. But there are some moves you can make to deter your kids from watching Squid Game or mitigating its negative effects on their well-being. Here’s some advice from experts on what parents should do if their child is watching or has been exposed to clips from Squid Game.
1. Talk to your child about trends and challenges on TikTok.
Some of the signature features of TikTok are its global challenges and trends, such as the infamous #DeviousLicks challenge that involves school vandalism. This is why certain videos spread like wildfire across the platform in ways that they don’t on other social media platforms, says Teodora Pavkovic, psychologist and lead cyber safety expert at Linewize, a popular content filtering app.
“If your child does engage with the TikTok platform, talk to them about how certain trends are more worthy of being followed than others,” Pavkovic says. “You can make this decision together with your child and talk to them about their own digital decision making.”
2. Consider the age ratings on social media apps.
Many parents may not be aware that most social media apps have age ratings. For the most part, they are 13 years and older.
“The show Squid Game, on the other hand, has been rated seventeen-plus due to its violent, gory, and sexual content, although reviews from children as young as fourteen and fifteen have come back saying that younger audiences with greater maturity can handle the story line and visuals,” Pavkovic explains.
3. Don’t eliminate your child’s access to TikTok entirely.
If you’ve found your child viewing a lot of this content on TikTok and you’re worried, don’t rush to take away your child’s access to the platform.
“Instead, have these conversations around the appropriateness of the app, online behavior, and the impact that viewing Squid Game content is having on them,” Pavkovic says. “From there, you can make an informed decision, together.”
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4. Monitor what your child watches on TV and streaming platforms.
Aside from social media, it’s possible for children to see the show on TV. The good news is, most streaming services have PIN and password-based parental controls. Research shows that kids whose parents actively manage their media consume less and make quality choices on their own, according to Polly Conway, senior TV editor at Common Sense Media, an organization that works to ensure digital well-being for kids.
5. Preview shows and movies you’re questioning, like Squid Game, before you let your child watch them.
The very first thing to do is see the show for yourself. Parents need to know that the level of violence in Squid Game is intense, according to Common Sense Media’s parent guide of the show. If you do decide to let your children watch the show, make sure to talk to them about what they’re seeing, and that it’s not okay to engage in certain behaviors they see in shows and movies.
“Squid Game may currently be the most sensational piece of media on Netflix right now, but it’s definitely not the only show or movie with this level of violence available on Netflix or elsewhere,” Conway explains. “If your kids have watched, talk to them about it. If they haven’t, it’s really easy to find age-appropriate media that’s free of violence that your kids will enjoy.”
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