How Fit Is Netflix’s Squid Game for Children and Teens?
Tabassum Tahmina Shagufta Hussein/ The International Fellow 2020, The International Human Rights Arts Festival(IHRAF)
Squid Game is the biggest show on Netflix and taking the world by storm. More than 142 million households have tuned in to watch the show worldwide, breaking Netflix’s all records. And viewers are still tuning on. It’s a South Korean show, and it is a kind of dystopian drama. It is all centred around innocent-looking children’s games. But these games are with brutal, deadly consequences. Many schools in Western countries warn parents against letting children and teens watch it due to its violent nature and fears that children and teens might be recreating the dangerous scenes. John Bramston Primary School, Sound Down School, Deal Kent School in the U.K. had extra lessons on the dangers of watching content that was not age-appropriate in response to the show’s popularity.
Some believe that this level of violence has no place on young people’s screens. There is an age restriction on this game, but nowadays, Netflix doesn’t have a watershed. Children and teens can watch it.
After post-pandemic and recent shameful communal incidents from the second week of October, Bangladeshi parents can’t afford to take any more pressure. We know that games like this go viral in a heartbeat. Then the parents are under pressure from children demanding that everyone is watching and they should be permitted to watch. Sometimes parents don’t have time. Children and teens are still doing online and in-person classes on a shift basis. Parents might find it very difficult to monitor everything. And before they know it depending on how persuasive their children are, their children are being exposed to deeply, graphically violent. The children don’t have the psychological and emotional maturity, especially young children who can watch the movie to make sense of it. It’s disturbing that teenagers are talking about this movie on social media and other different platforms like Reddit, Quora, etc. From their conversation, it appears that these droplets of normalizing graphic violence do have a long-term impact.
Similarly, parents in those forums have expressed their concern and levelled it as “blood-curdling”. Some parents’ opinion is that it is “upsettingly violent” and “traumatizing”. The violence comes surprisingly but in a very gruesome fashion. The show depicts the loss of human lives in some absolutely unusual ways; that being said, people worldwide have really taken to the show.
Squid Game is exceptionally violent and ghastly, very much chilling and frightening indeed. I wonder whether there’s an added element as we watch this picture these are children’s games which are depicted in a horrid way and are that something that adds to our concern for children as they watch it, they would assume these games are something to feel safe around, and then they turn grisly.
Children don’t have childhoods as we do because of the digital age. There are great things about the digital age, but children’s brains haven’t changed in the last few years. As adults, something that scares us is terrifying for children, but they can’t make any sense of them. And especially very young children they don’t understand. They think that it is just a program. But it becomes very messed up. Something beautiful and innocent fun that we want them to interact with their peers and run around the playground is becoming something dark and scary. Honestly, it gets very tangled up in their minds because they can’t make sense of it.
Let’s be the Devil’s advocate here for a while. In our time, boys played with plastic guns, and they used to shoot with watercolour at each other. Then came plastic machine guns with light and sound. Children used to play as combats. Isn’t that a part that hyperbole of fictional violence is part of growing up? So why we are so concerned about this particular “Squid Game” by Netflix?
In fact, the dire problem is the imagery. After watching, one can still see the images from Squid Game. The directors are bombarded with a lot more imagery which is disturbing. There is a saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it”. We are in a significant global crisis with violence in the home, violence in the streets. Every day terrible things are happening like teenage violence. If we can do everything as parents, grandparents will allow our children to be shielded from much violence.
Is it healthy to have all of this available in our culture? There’s quite a sophisticated storyline going on; you watch it and ask lots of questions about human behaviour and how we are all influenced. In this day and age of the 24-hour availability of television, what do we do about restrict our children from violent content?
In this age of Zoomers, it is difficult to moderate what children can or cannot watch. Because if they want, they will find a way. Social media has created spaces and bubbles that people can access that content. So, suppose you have children that are watching this or really want to watch it. In that case, it’s vital to have communications and conversations about what this program is about. Why do the children want to watch it? Is it peer pressure? Is it really wanting to know about the story? And if children are watching it, have those discussions about what the program depicts the extreme levels of violence. Actually, that level of violence is fictional, and it’s not real.
We already have video game addiction, PUBG, Free Fire problems openly preying on the minds of the young generation. It is the parent’s decision to make whether they can watch Squid Game with their children.
Netflix says they offer a wide variety of parental controls, including maturity filters to help families make the right viewing choice. Though Squid Game has a disclaimer that age 15 and over can watch it. Some parents are so irresponsible that they don’t follow the disclaimer and allow underage to watch because it has become a worldwide phenomenon. The trouble is if someone has seen it and then put it in TIKTOK, or they put it in the social media, then it’s out. There isn’t no stopping then.
We need to think about the moral dimension. Squid Game is not an entertainment show. It is entirely fictional. 1998 Oscar-winning movie “Saving Private Ryan” has some extraordinary gruesome scenes for the first fifteen minutes. But it is accepted because it was a rendition of what happened in Omaha beach on June 6, 1944, when the U.S. Army landed there as part of the Normandy invasion. The scenes are justified in the context of natural history. The moral dimension of this moral argument is that Squid Game depiction of violence is for sheer entertainment.
We need to do more to protect our children. Encouraging children about the country’s values like harmony, respecting all faith, something creative and something positive. And to prevent them from violent entertainment and any kind of hate speech. Let’s not fill their childhood and adolescence with darkness. If you look deeper, you will find that we can’t deny the reality. Before that, we had young women killed and raped, teen violence, TIKTOK group teen violence, stabbing and killings. We have a horrendous issue. The question is, how much of it is fueled by the violence that we see on screen?