Netflix’s hit series Squid Game is much like an egg. The yolk represents the players who awake to find themselves trapped in the centre. The white acts as the red guards who surround them, enforcing law and order. The shell is the hard exterior restricting participants from escaping the ‘game’. What an egg does not have, however, is 456 bankrupt individuals fighting to the death.

Violence Breeds Violence

The South Korean phenomenon has catapulted its creator Hwang Dong-hyuk to the limelight. Producing a staggering $900 million dollars, the program is currently Netflix’s most successful series launch ever since its unveiling on September 17. However, with 111 million views in just the first month, it raises the question of what percentage of viewers ignore its 15+ rating.

The violent nature of the series has not only cast concerns about the ages of those who sneakily manage to watch it. The show’s hype alone may be exposing younger children to its brutal excesses by other means. Social media has been at the forefront of this undue exposure with clips and references to the show available at the click of a button.

Well-known gaming platforms such as Roblox have raised concerns over whether the series should be replicated as a simulation on a platform rated E10. Ten-year-old Reagan, daughter of the main character on the show, recently admitted on This Morning that she has not been allowed to watch Squid Game because she’s too young.

But more importantly, should any of this violence be transmitted to children through a gaming simulation? Are we not, in fact, normalising violent content by allowing children to take part in it? A recent trend in ‘violent bullying’ has caused Cambridgeshire Police to issue a warning to parents, asking that they do all they can to keep a ‘watchful eye’ on the content children are viewing.

Dangerous Games

Of course, this is not the first time concerns have been raised over the persistence of bullying and violence in schools. The release of the sensationally popular survival video game Fortnite in September 2017 is but one example of this. The game requires players to scurry around the ‘world’ to extract guns and warfare equipment in order to fight other players until one sole victor remains.

Worries about the negative impact of these sinister ‘games’ and whether they desensitise children to what should typically be feared have been raised time and again. The American Academy of Paediatrics emphasised the impact this exposure has on a child’s emotional and psychological development. Aggressive thoughts are believed to be stimulated more readily as a result of such daily play. In many ways, these time-passing games act as a personal drug. Eventually, a player will likely move on to more violent genres such as Call of Duty and the notorious Grand Theft Auto.

Ultimately, whether it’s a TV series like Squid Game or a video game, what compels a child to engage with and in violent content is the testing nature of these so-called ‘games’. Both Squid Game and Fortnite ask players to gamble on their life. Could this be the root of their appeal? The thrill of knowing that there is a chance you might not make it is arguably an irresistible incentive to try your luck.

Now think back to the egg metaphor. Every time you cook one, you gamble on the chance that it might crack. The latest tragedy of the Michigan High School shooting is a salient reminder of the possible consequences of being exposed to violent content. Adults arguably have a duty to protect the innocence of children by preventing them from accessing and immersing themselves in the violent utopia that exists on our screens.a

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