There’s a new Netflix show that people are buzzing about that’s violent, unnerving and apparently popular with kids. Squid Game, a 9-episode drama from South Korea, focuses on cash-strapped contestants who agree to play a game that has deadly consequences. In one over-the-top scene, a game of “red light, green light,” which parents will recognize from their playground days, turns deadly as a masked death squad kills those who are eliminated by shooting them with machine guns.
The high-stakes games in the show have made it a hit and an overnight sensation, but according to Common Sense Media, there is nothing about this that is appropriate for children.
“Parents need to know that the level of violence is very intense in Squid Game,” reads the official review on the site. “Characters are systematically tortured and killed for the sadistic pleasure of a game master. Adults have sex, and there are threats of sexual violence: Women are grabbed by the hair and beaten. Themes concerning the highs one gets from gambling, winning, or conning money are a main focus.”
While the premise has been compared to The Hunger Games, this show is brutally violent and sadistic and is appropriate for 16+ only. In the UK, some schools reported that kids were playing their own versions of the games they saw on the show and letters were sent home warning parents.
To make things even trickier, Walmart and Netflix announced that they would be coming out with a line of merchandising related to the popular show. So before your child starts asking for Squid Game stuff for Christmas, it’s time to have some tough conversations. Even if you’ve talked to your child about viewing appropriate content on Netflix, parents need to be aware that previews for the show are popping up on YouTube and TikTok. Steps you can take include monitoring the media your child is consuming, previewing shows before your child views them and find them age-appropriate shows to watch instead.