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Is Squid Game suitable for children?

Is Squid Game suitable for children?

Everywhere you go, people are talking about Netflix’s latest phenomenon, Squid Game. The South Korean drama series is taking over our screens, our lives, and now it’s even creeping into the playground

But with the series taking the title as Netflix’s most successful show ever, is this something your kids should be watching?  And how should you approach conversations about the show with your children?


What is Squid Game?

Squid Game is a thriller drama series from South Korea, which has enjoyed enormous popularity since its release. The show centres around a competition, in which debt-ridden contestants take part in classic children's games - with a deadly twist. The last person alive is set to win 45.6 billion Korean Won (the equivalent of £28.2 million).

Viewers meet contestants from all walks of life, but who are all united by their crippling debt, determination to survive and desire to win the money - no matter the cost.


What is the age rating of Squid Game?

According to Netflix, the show has an age rating of 15, with violent and gruesome scenes in every episode. Officially, Squid Game carries parental guidance warnings for:

  • Graphic violence (including guns, stabbing and physical assault);

  • Gore;

  • Death (including suicide);

  • Scenes of a sexual nature;

  • Sexual violence;

  • References to alcohol, gambling and smoking.

Is Squid Game scary?

Squid Game is a compelling watch because of the sense of dread that viewers feel. There aren’t many scenes that will make you jump out of your seat, but there is an ongoing tension that will leave kids feeling on edge.

Ultimately, Squid Game is a last-man-standing survival mission. This means that death and violence are inescapable. Countless people are shot and killed, and there are multiple fight scenes that parents should be aware of. In a later episode, there is a graphic depiction of a man having his eyeball taken out.

Somewhat more disturbingly, Squid Game looks at the lengths humans will go to in order to survive. As people die throughout the series, more money is added to the prize pot for remaining contestants, meaning it’s in the characters’ interests to hurt their peers. Many parents might understandably have concerns about this kind of behaviour spilling over into the playground.


Are there any benefits to kids watching Squid Game?

Squid Game is incredibly successful for a reason. The edge-of-your seat storyline follows complex and unique characters throughout a number of incredible twists.

The show was designed to be a social commentary on South Korea’s class divide. It highlights the desperation that often arises as a result of debt - whether this debt has come from gambling, studying, or even a family emergency.

If you think your children are mature enough to understand these themes, this is a great opportunity to discuss the issue of debt as a family - what emotions might the characters be feeling in this situation? Are there any other ways out they could have taken?


What is the Squid Game Challenge app?

Off the back of the show’s success, developers have now released a Squid Game app (also known as the K-Games Challenge) for both iOS and Google Play. The team behind the game say it’s an opportunity for fans to “experience the thrills of the craze that's sweeping the world on your own mobile device!"

While using the app, players can virtually take part in the series’ famous games, which have the same violent, deadly consequences (albeit in cartoon format). The game itself is free, but - as is the risk with many mobile games - comes with pop-up adverts that could lead to children spending money by accident.

The age rating for the Squid Game app varies between devices - with Google Play recommending the game for ages 3+, and Apple for ages 12+. In this case, we recommend using your better judgement as a parent. If you wouldn’t be happy with your child watching the series, perhaps it’s best for them to not download the Squid Game app.


How to talk to children about Squid Game:

It’s ultimately up to you as a parent to decide if Squid Game is suitable for your children. But as with many things, it’s not always as simple as “you’re not allowed” and “because I said so”.

If your children are keen to watch Squid Game, gently remind them of the age restriction, and the fact it’s there for a reason. If you’re the parent to a child around the age of 15, be sure to talk openly and honestly about the concerns you have, before reaching a decision together about whether the show is appropriate.

As Squid Game is a hugely popular series, there is also potential for children to view related material by accident, through social media platforms such as TikTok. If this happens, calmly talk to your child about anything that is troubling them. It’s also worth reviewing the parental controls on these platforms, to make sure your children aren’t viewing inappropriate material that you could be protecting them from.

There’s also likely to be a sense of peer pressure at play here - children may worry about missing out on something that all their friends are watching. Make sure you get to the heart of why your kids want to watch Squid Game, and remind them that they don’t have to watch anything they’re not comfortable with.

And in case your child has gone ahead and watched Squid Game against your advice - don’t panic, and try not to be too angry. Help your children to know they can talk to you about anything they’ve seen that distresses them, and that this is all fiction. Gently remind them that re-enactments of the show’s violent scenes are inappropriate - whether at school or at home.


Overall opinion: Is Squid Game suitable for children?

Based on the official age rating and content warnings for violence and scenes of a graphic nature, it’s not recommended to show Squid Game to children under the age of fifteen. If you have children around this age, we recommend using your best judgement as a parent - have your kids reacted negatively to violent TV shows or video games before? 

If you do feel comfortable letting your children watch Squid Game, perhaps you could watch it together. This way, you’ll know exactly what they’re watching, and you can talk through any distressing scenes you see. You can also encourage your children to take breaks between episodes, rather than “binge-watching”, which might cause them to feel uncomfortably immersed in this violent fantasy world.

If you’re at all concerned about the content your children are viewing - either online, in games, or on TV - check out our digital parenting section for more helpful tips.

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