Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Has Parents Asking: Should You Let Your Kids Watch?

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Dad and mom have endured a pandemic, college shutdowns and child-care disruptions. Now they should grapple with “Squid Game.”

Jaime Bilicki’s 11-year-old son just lately got here dwelling from college asking if he may watch the present, a brand new hit on

Netflix.

She wasn’t acquainted with it. “I’m pondering one thing to do with SpongeBob,” mentioned Ms. Bilicki.

SpongeBob it’s not. The Korean dystopian drama depicts the killing of adults who compete in youngsters’s video games. The primary episode culminates in a sprig of blood and bullets as weapons mow down rivals in a grisly recreation of pink gentle, inexperienced gentle. Netflix charges it MA for mature audiences and mentioned the collection is its most-watched show inside a 28-day launch.

It’s producing buzz amongst youngsters, too, who hear about it from older siblings, on the playground, in memes on social media or by way of gaming platforms. Dad and mom say their youngsters are coming dwelling begging to observe it, or making an attempt to sneak in episodes on their very own. Some youngsters need to dress as the show’s characters for Halloween.

The youngsters’s video games featured in ‘Squid Sport’ are a part of what draw youngsters in, analysts say.

Picture:

Netflix

Frequent Sense Media, a nonprofit that charges reveals and different content material to assist mother and father assess age-appropriate viewing, mentioned its assessment for “Squid Sport” is its most-viewed of any present in a one-month interval. “Dad and mom need to know what’s ‘Squid Sport’, what’s going on with ‘Squid Sport’,” mentioned Polly Conway, senior TV editor for Frequent Sense Media.

The location rated it applicable just for youngsters ages 16 and older. “Dad and mom must know that the extent of violence could be very intense in ‘Squid Sport’,” it advises.

Scores of commenters on Frequent Sense’s web site have supplied their very own opinions.

“Those that say it’s advantageous for youths 13 and up will need to have very hardy 13 12 months olds,” wrote one commenter. One other supplied an episode-by-episode information to “squeamish” scenes to skip: “A bunch extra contestants get shot within the head,” it suggested for Episode 3. “It’s fairly good, simply relies upon if ur mature or not,” wrote a commenter recognized as a 12-year-old.

The youngsters’s video games featured within the present’s plotline, placing visible components that lend themselves to Web memes—together with a large robot-like doll—and parodies shared on social media are a part of what draw youngsters in, popular culture and parenting analysts say. And youngsters have gotten so used to watching content material on telephones throughout the pandemic that some mother and father say making an attempt to dam “Squid Sport” fully is a shedding battle.

The primary episode of ‘Squid Sport’ culminates in a violent recreation of ‘pink gentle, inexperienced gentle’ that includes a robot-like doll.

Picture:

Netflix

Ms. Bilicki, who lives in Milwaukee, watched quarter-hour of the primary episode and determined it was OK for her son, Troy, to observe. She reasoned that he already performs “Fortnite” and has seen horror motion pictures, together with 1981’s “An American Werewolf in London,” which she remembers being terrified by herself as a youngster.

“He was uninterested in it,” she mentioned. “He is aware of how scenes are constructed. He is aware of what’s faux and it doesn’t faze him in any respect.”

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Sixth-grader Troy, who received his personal cellphone final 12 months, mentioned he first heard of the present from YouTubers who watch and react to memes associated to the present. He watched all 9 episodes from his cellphone in three days. He mentioned he has additionally performed “Squid Sport”-related video games on Roblox, a gaming platform in style with youngsters.

“You’ll be able to truly expertise what it was like in ‘Squid Sport’,” he mentioned. “It was actually cool.”

Roblox mentioned its security requirements don’t enable content material that accommodates “excessive violence or severe bodily or psychological abuse,” and that its moderators can tackle any inappropriate content material inside minutes.

In an emailed assertion, a Netflix spokesperson mentioned that “Squid Sport” is meant for mature audiences, which implies it is probably not appropriate for ages 17 and below. “We provide mother and father all kinds of parental controls to make the suitable decisions for his or her households,” the assertion added.

Some mother and father determine their youngsters are going to discover a method to watch, and would relatively they did so with mother and father. Whereas watching season 2 of “Home of Playing cards” along with her 13-year-old son Ryan a number of weeks in the past, Rachael Leventhal mentioned he requested to observe “Squid Sport” as a substitute.

She wasn’t conscious that it contained graphic scenes and violence, however went together with it. “I figured we’re watching it collectively. If it will get actually unhealthy we flip it off or I can throw a blanket over his head.” (It didn’t come to that, she mentioned.) Later that night, her youngest son, 10-year-old Kyle, got here downstairs to the lounge and mentioned he was already watching the present upstairs from his laptop, recalled Ms. Leventhal. Since he was watching it anyway and he or she most popular he did so along with her, she requested him to affix them.

The present is a sizzling subject at 9-year-old Rocco Kotler’s college in Delran, N.J.

“It is rather in style at college. Everybody needs to observe it,” he mentioned. Those that do are “largely the children which have older brothers,” he added. Rocco mentioned he just lately received to sit down together with his father and two older brothers to observe two episodes on the household TV.

“He put his hand over his eye at one level,” mentioned his father, David Kotler. Mr. Kotler mentioned he paused earlier than permitting Rocco to affix, however determined that Rocco is mature sufficient, and that he would have stepped away if it had overwhelmed him. “You realize your individual child,” he mentioned.

Different mother and father are extra apprehensive.

Samantha Giddings, a instructor exterior of London, mentioned she would watch the primary few episodes of the present earlier than permitting her 13-year-old daughter, Emily, to observe it. Ms. Giddings mentioned on-line boards have been stuffed with discussions about whether or not college students needs to be watching the present. 

“I’m going to observe it and see what I feel” earlier than permitting Emily to tune in, Ms. Giddings mentioned.

Emily hopes she will get the inexperienced gentle. “I’m actually curious what the hype is,” she mentioned.

Write to Anne Marie Chaker at anne-marie.chaker@wsj.com

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