Netflix’s Squid Game is set to become the streaming service’s most successful show of all time, with huge numbers of viewers taking to social media to discuss each new episode. The South Korean thriller features some scenes of fairly brutal violence and is rated 15 by the BBFC. It follows a group of adults who compete to win innocent-looking playground games, but who are killed if they do not succeed at the tasks.
An unexpected success in terms of viewing figures, Squid Game’s popularity is beginning to spread across various online platforms. There has been a slew of content created – ranging from memes to apps – that convey the violence of the show, so it is important for parents, carers and educators to understand the basis of Squid Game and the potential risks to young people who might be exposed to it.
Squid Game’s 15 rating has not prevented clips and images from the show being uploaded onto social media sites such as TikTok, with the #SquidGame hashtag being viewed more than 22.8 billion times. There have been reports of children who have accounts on these platforms inadvertently viewing gory, explicit scenes from the programme, and parents and carers should be mindful of the prevalence of these uploads.
The popularity of the programme has also led to online challenges based on various scenes, which see people taking part in seemingly innocent children’s games. On the show, however, characters are executed if they fail in the game – and videos of people pretending to kill each other after competing in Squid Game-style contests are going viral on social media, where they are easily accessible to children.
Squid Game Challenge (also known as K-Game Challenge) is an app for smartphones and tablets that has been released for Android and iOs, and the two systems differ significantly on their age ratings for the game. The iTunes Store rates the app as 12+ (advising of “mild/infrequent horror/fear themes”), while the PEGI rating for Android is just 3+, which means that very young children might be able to download and play the game even with parental controls activated on their device or through Google Play.
The gameplay is frequently interrupted by pop-ups and ads (sometimes appearing while the user is rapidly tapping their screen while attempting to complete the challenge). This could easily lead to unwanted purchases or accidental visits to inappropriate sites beyond the app.
As a parent or carer, keep a watchful eye on the content that your children are viewing. Speak to them openly and chat about how they have been spending time on their devices; let them ask questions, too. Ensure that the parental controls are activated on your child’s device and that age-restricted child profiles are properly set up any on-demand services available through the family TV (such as Netflix, in this case) to prevent inappropriate content being streamed.
If you see your child replicating the challenges from the show or hear them talking about scenes and characters from Squid Game, it would be a timely opportunity to discuss with them that the programme is not intended for children, that much of the content would be inappropriate for their age, and that the violence in the series is very realistic and often upsetting.
Momo is a sinister ‘challenge’ that has been around for some time. It has recently resurfaced and once again has come to the attention of schools and children across the country. Dubbed the ‘suicide killer game’, Momo has been heavily linked with apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and most recently (and most worryingly)... YouTube Kids. The scary doll-like figure reportedly sends graphic violent images, and asks users to partake in dangerous challenges like waking up at random hours and has even been associated with self-harm. It has been reported that the ‘Momo’ figure was originally created as a sculpture and featured in an art gallery in Tokyo and unrelated to the ‘Momo’ challenge we are hearing about in the media.
For extra advice on this, please check the poster below - The below poster is available in the office for collection upon request, along with other Online Safety guides.
I need to make sure that you are aware of a game that many of our children are playing online. The game in question is called Fortnite. It is a free online survival game, in its basic form, with up to four players working together on various missions to collect resources, build fortifications around defensive objectives, and construct weapons and traps to engage in combat with an army of zombie-like creatures that are trying to kill them. Other versions of the game include ‘Battle Royale’, where up to 100 players can play and be in contact with one another. Through this, children can be at risk of inadvertent contact with strangers from all over the world. The issue is that, despite Fortnite having a PEGI rating of 12, there are many of our children at Goldenhill, across all year groups, who have been playing this game online.
You will, of course, make your own decisions about this for your child. However, should you decide to ignore the 12+ age restriction, can I urge you to sit with your child at some point when Fortnite is on the screen and to keep an eye on how your child is behaving online towards others, who is in their shared online community at any given time and how they are behaving towards your child.
For extra advice on this, please check the poster below - or pop in to see Mr H for a chat about how else we can educate the children or wider community. The below poster is available in the office for collection upon request, along with other Online Safety guides.
Online Safety Warriors: 2021-2022
I'm a parent in 2021 - HELP!!
The online world is fast becoming the most popular, social place for our children and it is our job, as teachers and parents, to ensure that they are safe in both the real and virtual world.
This page will direct you to some helpful websites to keep safe online! (Click the images to go to the pages!)
The ThinkuKnow website is run by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and includes advice and information for parents, carers and children. CEOP’s Thinkuknow for parents and carers page includes separate sections for primary and secondary aged children, a video explaining internet safety for parents and plugins to make your browser safer.
The NSPCC has recently launched their Net aware site. It is a well designed site that is easy to navigate and gives parents up to date information about social network sites their child may be using. You can also register to ensure you receive information as soon as it is published.
Childnet's website features various resources for teachers, parents and children of all ages. It also updates a very active twitter account with up to date information on safeguarding in an E-Safety sense.
The UK safer Internet Centre site is full of useful information about keeping yourself and your family safe online. They update their information frequently, keeping up to date with ever evolving apps and crazes. They have recently published information on using the Pokemon Go app and on keeping safe in the summer holidays. The site also includes useful information about using social media safely.
Vodafone have developed an excellent website called Digital Parenting that contains lots of advice about keeping children safe on line. It includes instructions for setting up parental controls on a wide variety of devices (under the ‘How To’ tab) and a wealth of information about keeping safe online for all generations. It is well worth checking out!