Australian schools are warning parents not to let their children watch Squid Game after students were caught imitating violent scenes from the Netflix horror series.
The South Korean program, the most popular in Netflix’s history, centres around a fictional game show in which poverty-stricken characters compete in a series of death games to win a $50million cash prize.
It features gruesome scenes of characters being shot in the head and others having their organs harvested.
The show is not meant to be seen by young children.
A scene from Netflix show Squid Game, which Australian schools have warned is being copied by children as young as six
Primary school children saythey have watched Squid Game, which is rated MA, meaning it is meant only to be seen by a mature audience
As kids in NSW return to school after lockdown, it is feared many of them will have had unsupervised access to violent streaming TV shows while spending months at home.
One Sydney school principal was so concerned about Squid Game and other violent shows she penned a letter to parents.
‘Squid Game features scenes that depict extreme violence and gore, strong language and frightening moments that are, according to its rating, simply not suitable for primary and early high school aged children,’ Linda Wickham, the principal of Dulwich Hill Public School in Sydney’s inner west, wrote to parents.
Squid Game centres around a fictional game show in which poverty-stricken characters compete in a series of death games
She said children as young as six said they have watched the show, which is rated MA, meaning it is meant only to be seen by a mature audience.
Ms Wickham told parents that Squid Game features ‘an aggressive version of a familiar children’s game, red light, green light’.
‘This, and other inappropriate content are negatively influencing playground games.’
She advised parents to change their Netflix account settings to stop children watching the show, which has been seen by 111 million people since its debut on September 17.
A scene from the Korean show Squid Game, which is being copied in schools around the world
‘Violent language and aggressive behaviours may be easily mimicked by children, particularly outside the confines of your home and in the wider space of a school playground,’ Ms Wickham warned.
‘Withholding the capacity of your children to access inappropriate content … will certainly assist to keep them safe and their growing minds to stay healthy.’
Schools across Australia and in the UK, US, Europe and Asia have issued similar warnings.
A school in Perth said the level of violence in the show was ‘highly intense’. ‘It has come to our attention that the series Squid Game is being discussed by some of our students and that games based on this series are starting to appear in the playground,’ the Sydney Morning Herald quoted a letter to parents as saying.
Masks inspired Squid Game on display with other masks at Yiwu Wholesale Market in Yiwu, China
In England, John Jolly, CEO of the Parentkind charity, said: ‘Where there are safeguarding concerns … parents need to exercise judgement as to whether or not it’s suitable for their child.
‘They should use parental supervision to decide, just as they should when it comes to any entertainment containing adult themes that their child wishes to see,’ he said.
Another UK school contacted parents to say pretending to shoot other children in the playground was inappropriate.
‘Children who are watching (Squid Game) are being exposed to graphic realistic scenes of violence and sadly children are acting out this behaviour in the playground, which will not be tolerated,’ the school said.