Australia Children as young as six mimicking Squid Game in playground, school warns

05:51  14 october  2021
05:51  14 october  2021 Source:   theage.com.au

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A Sydney primary school has asked parents to make sure their children do not watch the popular Netflix series Squid Game, which depicts "extreme violence and gore", because students are mimicking the games in the playground.

Similar warnings have been issued by schools in the United States, Britain, Asia and Europe about the South Korean show, which involves debt-ridden contestants playing life-or-death versions of playground games such as red light, green light.

Only small numbers of children are attending school in Sydney, but tens of thousands will return to classrooms over the next two weeks after 16 weeks of remote learning, during which many have had extensive and unsupervised access to screens.

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Linda Wickham, the principal of Dulwich Hill Public School in Sydney's inner west, wrote to parents on Thursday saying children as young as six and seven have acknowledged they have watched the series, which is rated MA for mature adults.

"Squid Game features scenes that depict extreme violence and gore, strong language and frightening moments that are, according to its rating, simply not suitable for primary and early high school aged children," Ms Wickham wrote.

The program contains graphic scenes in which characters are violently killed off as they play for a cash prize. "An aggressive version of a familiar children's game, red light, green light, is played in the series," she said. "This, and other inappropriate content are negatively influencing playground games."

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The principal asked parents to change their Netflix settings to prevent children watching the program, and to monitor their children's online activity closely.

"Violent language and aggressive behaviours may be easily mimicked by children, particularly outside the confines of your home and in the wider space of a school playground," she said.

"Withholding the capacity of your children to access inappropriate content ... will certainly assist to keep them safe and their growing minds to stay healthy."

Overseas schools have issued similar warnings. John Bramston Primary School in Essex, England said children were playing their own versions of Squid Game in the playground. However, pretending to shoot others was not appropriate or acceptable.

"Children who are watching this are being exposed to graphic realistic scenes of violence and sadly children are acting out this behaviour in the playground, which will not be tolerated," it said.

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In Belgium, children at the municipal school of Erquelinnes Béguinage Hainaut have played versions of "1,2,3 Piano" and other games from the show, and are "beating up" the loser, the school warned in a Facebook post.

Rose Cantali, the head of the NSW branch of the Australian Parents' Council and a child psychologist, said she had not watched the show but had heard about its violence.

She was discussing it with a parent last weekend, who told her that they were not aware their child was watching the show and did not know much about it until the child's father saw it over their child's shoulder.

"The concerns are that children do bring it to the playground where they do apply those types of things in their own games," she said. "This virtual gaming is very impressionable to them, they start taking on the characters and mimicking things they do.

"Kids are very impressionable, and with these games, sometimes they can't see the difference between virtual and real.

"My advice to parents would be to watch any show that children are watching, that's a must, and minimise any series that promotes excessive violence, and where kids can easily get involved in a character and a game."

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