A council in the south of England has advised parents not to let their children watch the Netflix show Squid Game, after reports children as young as six are copying its violent challenges.
The education safeguarding team from Central Bedfordshire council sent an email to parents and guardians in the district urging them to “be vigilant after hearing reports that children and young people are copying games and violence from hit new Netflix series Squid Game, which is rated 15”.
In the programme, indebted contestants play games for cash, but are shot dead if they fail.
Though many of the games featured on the programme require specialised weapons and equipment, some of which are violent versions of playground games such as marbles and tug of war which are easy for children to recreate.
Many children are not watching the show but are aware of it via viral challenges on TikTok, where social media users post their own versions of the games.
Some reports say children have been using physical violence in the playground to “punish” losers as a substitute for the player losing their life. Particularly popular is red light, green light – traditionally known as statues or grandmother’s footsteps in the UK – in which players try to reach a finish line while the gamesmaster’s back is turned. They must freeze on the spot whenever the grandmother/creepy Squid Game doll turns around.
Watch: The world is watching 'Squid Game'
This month a school in Belgium said children were beating up those who moved in lieu of shooting them, as in Squid Game.
There have also been warnings about the honeycomb game, which requires players to cut out one of four shapes in a thin disc of honeycomb using a needle without breaking the shape. This has become popular on TikTok, prompting fears that children could burn themselves on caramelised sugar if they attempt to make the honeycomb themselves.
The Central Bedfordshire council email said: “There have been some concerning reports recently about children and young people ‘playing’ Squid Game whilst at school. Squid Game is also being viewed via other platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, and given the popularity of the games in the show, developers have made various mini-games based on Squid Game on Roblox and other gaming platforms.
“We strongly advise that children should not watch Squid Game. The show is quite graphic with a lot of violent content.”
Schools have sent similar warnings to parents. Gareth Nichols, from Sir Francis Hill primary in Lincoln, said “a small group of pupils within school, aged around six” were discussing the show and “re-enacting some scenes”.
Nichols said the class teacher “immediately contacted parents to make them aware”, the BBC reported.
He added: “[The teacher] also advised parents to check settings on their devices as pupils may be accessing and viewing this show without their parents’ knowledge.”
Watch: Squid Game becomes Netflix’s most popular series ever