Parents who allow their children to watch “Squid Game” may be fostering bullies as they get older, according to a UK parenting expert.
Social psychologist Dr. Sandra Wheatley, based in London, said the violent series could impede young kids’ “social and emotional development,” encouraging them to turn a blind eye — or even join in — when others are under attack, reported the Daily Mail.
The series broke Netflix records this past month, exceeding 111 million viewers — the platform’s largest audience yet.
“Squid Game” sees its characters compete in a deadly tournament of children’s games for a life-altering cash prize awarded to the last player standing. At nearly every turn, the show depicts acts of physical and emotional violence being heaped onto its characters, ultimately resulting in their death until one winner is crowned.
However, our youngest generation may not understand the show’s context, according to Wheatley.
“It may make them question, ‘Why is nobody helping them?’ Clearly, there are messages there that we really don’t want our kids to take on board,” she explained.
“That might well shake the foundations of what they’re being taught at school, which is that we care and we help each other.”
Her statement comes after a primary school in Belgium earlier this month warned parents about “Squid Game” after finding students re-enact dangerous games on the playground as depicted in the show. “We [must remain] vigilant so that this unhealthy and dangerous game is stopped!,” read an announcement from the school on Facebook, after students were seen punching each other as penance for losing in the “Red Light, Green Light” game. In the series, those disqualified are shot dead, point-blank.
Wheatley said “Squid Game” is sending kids the wrong message about how to handle bullying in public. “We don’t stand by if we witness an injustice. If we see somebody else being bullied or hurt, we tell a teacher, and we don’t just join in or walk away.
“Clearly there are messages there that we really don’t want our kids to take on board,” she said.
Some parents on the UK-based Mumsnet community admitted to letting their kids watch “Squid Game,” according to the Daily Mail. Wrote one mom of an 8-year-old, “I watch it with her in the room. I fast forward sex scenes or really brutal violence but she knows it’s not real.”
Others on the site condemned the show — and the parents who allow its viewing under their roof. “Scummy parents let their kids watch violent shows,” said one, while another added, “It’s child neglect — so sad.”