Squid Games' tentacles are reaching for our kids

Squid Game has wrapped its tentacles around Netflix viewers throughout the world. The graphic, gore-soaked series is aimed at mature audiences. Yet worrying reports show its twisted themes and images are invading digital content that targets our kids. 

The dystopian, South Korean-produced horror series is now the most-watched TV series on the platform. Its premise: A group of adult challengers competes for a cash prize by playing classic Korean children’s games. The losers are killed. 

Intensifying the on-screen horror, the games are staged in arenas styled as children’s play spaces. After each round, the playgrounds - now blood-spattered - fill with mounds of corpses.

No parent in their right mind would allow a child to watch Squid Game, which in Australia is rated MA15+. But because children’s awareness of the program is high, thanks to its popularity on social media and gaming platforms - including Roblox and Minecraft - educators in Sydney, Perth and the UK are warning parents to be vigilant.

Kids are being exposed to the program’s violent themes on social media and gaming platforms, and reports of children emulating them online and in off-screen play are mounting.

On Roblox, the game “Red Light, Green Light” - essentially a crude, animated spin-off of the Netflix series - is massively popular. It features a murderous animatronic doll that functions as a motion sensor to kill players.

“The show is certainly a craze within children’s digital cultures,” says Swinburne University screen studies lecturer Jessica Balanzategui. 

She notes that Squid Game-inspired content is trending on TikTok, with users emulating the show’s themes across myriad real-life settings.

On Roblox, the game “Red Light, Green Light” - essentially a crude, animated spin-off of the Netflix series - is massively popular. It features a murderous animatronic doll that functions as a motion sensor to kill players.

Yet Balanzategui cautions about the “rising global panic” around kids’ online obsession with Squid Game content.

Remember the “Momo Challenge”? It was all about a scary digital creature purportedly encouraging kids to participate in dangerous challenges and blackmailing them with death threats if they didn’t comply.

momoThe Momo Challenge seemed like a credible threat at the time, but turned out to be a prank.

After warnings were issued to parents around the world, it was eventually discovered the Momo Challenge was a viral hoax.

Says Balanzategui, “Concerns about Squid Games’ influence on children have a similar tenor: These fears may not be a response to actual dangers, but a manifestation of our discomfort with how easily adult-oriented media can seep into online content aimed at young children.”




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Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Excessive Device Usage, online safety, roblox, tiktok, violence, Squid Game

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