Squid Game, the current number one show on Netflix in almost every country, has got teens (and adults) hooked! Highlighting addiction, abuse and desperation, this show has our teens exposed, front and centre to some hard-core realities. Here is what every parent needs to know and some great conversation starters for you and your Squid Game hooked screenager.
Gi-hun, a 47-year-old living with his mama, is cash-strapped and in desperate need of a life change. After stealing his mother’s debit card, and using all her money, debt collectors threaten to take his kidney and his eye. Mysteriously he is approached in a subway to play a child’s game for big moolah. When he loses, he is slapped. When he wins, he makes good money. The stranger gives him a card, inviting him to join a bigger game for big time money. Needless to say he enters the game where he meets hundreds of desperate people, all willing to do anything to change their situation.
THE DOWN SIDE:
Unless your child is made of steel, they will bear witness to much in the way of torture and murder, rape and abuse. Suffice to say the series is dark, very dark. What concerns us is exposure to this level of violence can create a detachment to very serious issues before our children have had life experience. The very last thing we want for our children is to be indifferent. By normalising this type of violence, Squid Game has the potential to build the capacity in our children to simply be indifferent.
Many opportunities for discussion at the dinner table around moral moments, integrity, desperation and what it creates in human frailty. There characters are complex and multifaceted presenting our teens with much to think about in terms of choices and life decisions.
“But All my friends are watching it”
With an age restriction of 15+ on Netflix it’s clearly not suitable for younger viewers. Aside from the challenging story line and overwhelming images, the moral dilemmas facing the characters are to too difficult for them to fully grasp.
That being said, we know that many 12-year-olds are binge watching the whole series with or without their parent’s permission. And if they haven’t watched it, their friends are talking about it, Squid Game is surfacing in Roblox and some schools have even reported young kids re-enacting Squid Game scenes on the playground. It’s EVERYWHERE.
‘Check in with your screenager – do they want to watch, why, what have they heard about it? At KLIKD what we think is important to impart is how this series feels really exciting because it comes across as Reality TV that involves murder, violence (against women), torture…to the teen brain it is a dopamine rush like no other. Up until now these features have been ‘fake’ and they know it. Of course, they still are fake but the series and the characters have a very real-life like quality to them. Think of it as showing a twelve-year-old porn in the hope that that they grasp that sex about relationships and not just immediate gratification. A pretty hard challenge!
Actions for parents
- Check your Netflix parental controls to prevent younger kids from accessing it (though remember, its being discussed everywhere so be prepared to still have the conversations).
- Netflix allows you to curate appropriate content based on the age of each individual user – very helpful in a family of kids (and adults) of different ages
- Access Netflix on your BROWSER (not the Netflix App)
- You can also put in measures to ensure your younger kids don’t access the adult/ older kids’ profiles..
- Go to “Profile and Parental Controls” and select the profile you DON’T want your kids to access
- Go to “Profile Lock” and Click “Change”
- This will give you the option of requiring a 4 digit pin to enter this profile
- Anyone who tries to access this profile going forward will need to put in the pin first
- Worried your tech savvy kid will outsmart you and create a new Netflix profile to access out of reach content?
- Remember, the first profile is the Master Profile. Netflix allows the Master Profile to be locked with a 4-digit code.
- Check the box labelled “Require [profile name] PIN to add new profiles“, which will prevent anyone other than the Master Profile to add new profiles.
Netflix also allows you to control the types of shows that your children watch, and stop them from watching specific shows you don’t think are appropriate. You can search and select specific titles that you don’t want available to your child.
When setting up the age restrictions you can set up your child’s account so that only shows with a specific age rating show up on their profile. The options are U, PG, 12, 15 and 18. You can also add specific shows to your restricted titles list.
To do this:
1. Go to Netflix.com/account.
2. Scroll to ‘Profile & Parental Controls ’and click on the profile you want to manage.
3. Click ‘Change’ next to the Viewing Restrictions setting.
4. Enter your Netflix password.
5. Set the maturity rating for the programmes and films you want to allow in that profile.
6. You have the options of U, PG, 12, 15 and 18.
7. Under Title Restrictions, type the name of the title and click the title when it appears. You will see a list of restricted titles listed in red.
8. Select Submit.
2. Talk to your screenager, and then talk some more: Whatever your call as a parent, there has never been a series that calls upon us more to hold our boundaries and ensure we have big bold conversations at the dinner table.
• Do you think violence is just part of human nature? Do we all have a propensity to violence and a potential to hurt others when we are desperate or is it only the limited few.
• How does the series make you feel about human nature? Do you think we are all basically good at our core, basically evil at our core but tempered by societal rules or are we blank slates until our circumstances change? Have you ever become someone you did or didn’t want to be, because the circumstances changed?
• When we see extreme violence, we often become numb to it? Do you feel that you are indifferent to on screen violence and off-screen violence or do you think you would feel differently if you saw this kind of violence IRL you would have a strong reaction to it?
• Characters in this series are in debt, often because they’re addicted to gambling. Why do you think people always believe addiction won’t happen to them?
• There are different kinds of addiction – thinking about some people we know, some drink, some smoke or vape. Others are addicted to porn. Do you think there is a difference in the ‘danger’ level of different kinds of addiction.
• Scientists think that the overall driver for addictive behaviour is a feeling of isolation, aloneness? Do you agree with this?
• If you felt you were going down a slippery slope with drinking or gambling or porn, who would you turn to feel less isolated and alone. Who is your ‘go to’ person. I don’t mind if it isn’t me, I just want to know you have someone in mind (an elder cousin, a mentor, etc)
3. Upskill your screenager with the skills to navigate online addiction, sexting and to recognize when digital media starts to effect their mental wellbeing.
The Klikd App has an entire module entitled “Me? An Addict!” teaching teens and tweens (in ways they can actually hear) why and how we get hooked to addictive technologies, and equipping them with real, in the moment skills to use when social media starts to effect their mental wellbeing. It also comes with an entire book of Parent Conversation Starters giving parents loads of conversation starters such as the one above to use to discuss addiction, pornography, sexting and many other difficult to discuss topics.
Sign up your screenager today: https://klikd.co.za/the-app/