Netflix’s Squid Game is one of the most talked-about television shows and is to be Netflix’s biggest non-English show in 90 countries.
Since its international premiere on September 17, Squid Game has become Netflix’s most popular show yet — where ranking is based on a title watched for at least two minutes in the first 28 days of release.
As of October 12, Netflix announced the TV show reached 111M viewers worldwide!
Contrary to what a typical Korean series is known for with its charming narrative and romance that pulls the heartstrings, this South Korean Netflix show is a dark, survival series that captures current social and economic issues.
It’s similar to the plot of Hunger Games or Battle Royale, where many poverty-stricken or debt-ridden contestants compete in a series of death games as they are lured by the salvation of a large cash prize.
There’s a tonne of reviews, comments, and memes going around on social media, so beware of spoiler alerts if Squid Game has not made it to your watchlist (which is highly unlikely, at this point).
The fact that this frenzy has been brought to the attention of schools and parents alike shows the enormous influence of TV shows on our culture.
Greenlight on social media and among popular brands
Publicity is remarkable when content blows up on social media, presenting us with opposing behaviours, views, and opinions at the speed of light.
Let’s first take a look at the positive effects of this Netflix series before diving into the dark side of things (mainly why teachers are freaking out), as it’s essential to understand the global commercial and cultural impact.
Squid Game is being quoted or mentioned across all social media platforms. The hashtag #SquidGame has been used over 730,000 times on Instagram and over 280,000 times on Facebook.
See it for yourself by typing out the hashtag on the search bar of either of these social media platforms — it might have even bumped up in number by the time you’re reading this.
The speed of the hype is outstanding, especially considering we’re less than a month into the show’s release, thus making it Netflix’s biggest series launch ever.
Media companies are quick to cover the latest news about this series, including the trending memes on Twitter and videos on Tiktok that will have you cracking up even though the show is dark and tragic.
Squid Game Merchandise is also trending among influencers and their followers. And with Halloween being just around the corner, it’s safe to assume that the characters will outlast the initial buzz.
Did you know — even though Netflix is not accessible in China, much of the squid game-related merchandise comes from stores listed by companies based in the Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as Anhui province, among others?
Now Netflix is capitalising on this with the recent announcement of its partnership with Walmart, and it’s honestly high time they do.
What more? Well, fans are clamouring for the next season with that cliffhanger in the last episode of season 1. And with the sustained popularity, kids and teens are bound to be in the loop one way or the other.
That’s where the role of teachers and parents come in…
Red light among schools and parents
Popularity breeds curiosity. So it is not surprising that kids will be enticed to watch and join in with the rest of the fandom.
Interest among our little ones is inevitable, especially now that they’re more exposed to the digital world — and conversations online — than ever before.
But what age range is appropriate for binging on this Netflix series?
Maybe the confusion is because of the depiction of playground games in memes? Perhaps it’s the giant doll in the red light, green light game, sending the wrong message?
But the show is anything but “child’s play”. With concern around sex scenes, nudity, extreme violence, self-harm, suicide and strong language, the BBFC has given Squid Game a 15-yr old rating.
But younger children watch Squid Game, and this is why teachers are freaking out. There are reports that violent behaviours are being copied in schoolyard games.
It’s believed that the concerns arose when students began asking teachers to conduct contests similar to that of Squid Games’.
To be honest, we can’t blame the teachers as their duty is only to provide a safe learning environment for children within the school grounds. But copycat fears are real and should not be taken lightly.
According to a report in a school in Belgium, pupils as young as eleven were seen playing a local version of the game, hitting any disqualified players.
Thankfully, there have been no reports of violence in British playgrounds yet. But schools that have warned or sent a letter to parents include Conyers School, Teesside Highschool, and Goodwin Academy.
Sandown School in Deal, Kent, set an example of the right kind of response by issuing extra lessons on violence and online harm.
As the BBFC can’t control what kids watch, it’s evident that parents play a crucial role in regulating or influencing content consumption.
It seems that the outcome of the replication is bringing about active participation among adults. Encouraging students and parents to deal with content regulation is the best strategy, especially for primary school students.
Opening up the conversation in our homes
This advice goes to all the adults who have children in primary school or below fourteen.
If your kids have already been exposed to these gruesome scenes, you should make your home a safe place for them to be open, honest, and transparent with you.
To all the teachers, parents and older siblings, a healthy discourse is better than reproach (or a blind eye) toward the content children consume. The same goes for all kinds of media that might not be suitable for kids.
Feel free to express your concern about the matter and make sure they understand your concerns. Rather than coercion or imposing strict restraints, provide those extra lessons or advice regarding violence.
If they are not yet exposed but have access to Netflix, the Netflix Kids Experience Profile might help regulate what your children watch.
Ultimately, the popularity of this Netflix show isn’t going away, and adults will always play an essential role in influencing their young ones.