Your entire timeline/feed/friend group at parent-pick have been discussing Squid Game for a couple weeks now. But now, it seems, the show’s popularity may have spread to a younger audience. Or at least all the buzz about it. Multiple media outlets, schools, and parents on social media are reporting that, around the world, kids are playing “Squid Game” at school, so here’s what you need to know.
Squid Game is a Korean thriller on Netflix
The Netflix limited series tells the story 456 severely indebted people competing in a series of children’s games for a chance to win ₩45.6 billion (or about $38.5 million) under the watchful eye of a cadre of masked, uniformed soldiers. The catch? Losers pay with their lives. So something like a simple game of “Red Light, Green Light” or marbles turns into a massacre, blood and bullets flying.
Part Hunger Games, part splatter film, Squid Game was released internationally on Sept. 17 of this year. Within weeks, it soared (and has largely remained) to #1 in the 83 countries where it’s available and has received overwhelmingly positive reception among critics as well. With a TV-MA rating and Common Sense Media recommending it for viewers 16 and older, it is decidedly not for young viewers.
Schools are reporting that children are playing “Squid Game” on the playground
In early October, the Ecole Communale d'Erquelinnes Centre in Belgium posted a warning to parents on Facebook about students playing a version of 1-2-3 Sun! (a Belgian version of Red Light, Green Light, which was depicted in the series) wherein the loser gets punched.
“We are very vigilant to stop this unhealthy and dangerous game,” they wrote. “We rely on your support and collaboration to raise awareness of the consequences this can bring about! Penalties will be imposed on the children who will continue this game (to hit other children... obviously 1-2-3 sun is allowed)!”
Even where violent behavior has not been an issue, schools are concerned with kids watching and imitating the show
John Bramston Primary School in the UK has sent letters home to parents, warning them that the show is “rated 15 for a reason.” “Also please explicitly share that pretending to shoot one another is not appropriate — nor acceptable,” the school added, implying that this has been an issue.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that other schools, while not reporting issues with violence or inappropriate behavior per se, have sent out letters and social media posts to parents and guardians warning of the graphic nature of the show. Parents on social media have also reported receiving similar letters.
Parents have mixed feelings about the warnings
Parents, teachers, and caregivers have taken to social media sharing the appearance of Squid Game-themed play in their children’s schools, and have expressed various feelings on the subject, from concern to dismissal.
“My kids are out here pretending to shoot each other when they lose at recess because of this Squid Game show,” tweeted @AshleightPaige__, who followed up the statement with an eye roll emoji. “It’s lovely.”
“When you give up on parenting and let your child watch sh*t on tv like Squid Games, it affects everyone not just you,” Twitter user @Sanaa7ilwa wrote, sharing a screenshot of a letter (in French) they received from their child’s school warning about the show.
“Why are y’all letting your children watch Squid Game? 1st and 2nd grade students,” @VHS_TAPES asked. “They’re all talking about it at school. Y’all think that’s ok?
Others suggest this is nothing terribly new. “Reminds me of being 10 and jealous of kids whose folks let them watch Nightmare on ElmStreet,” tweeted Dan Gasser.
Twitter user @CaitTeneille seems to take the appearance of the game on her school playground in stride. “Well, school play duty has changed. 3 separate games of Red Light, Green Light, asking the kids to please not shoot each other up,” she tweeted.
Others still are concerned that school’s swift and serious reactions to students discussing the show may actually backfire.
In a tweet that’s been liked more than four thousand times, Twitter user @pollymackenzie said, “Our primary school sent a letter to parents telling us not to let kids watch Squid Game. And held an all school assembly telling kids not to watch Squid Game. Result? Children who really want to watch Squid Game.”