As a fascination with Netflix Play squid grips the world, doctors have a piece of advice for parents: Do not let your children watch.
The fictional nine-episode Korean drama, which debuted on Netflix in September, follows hundreds of contestants competing in deadly children’s games for a chance to escape serious debt.
Only one person escapes with a $ 51 million prize, and those who lose pay with their lives.
On Netflix, it is rated MA15 + for mature adults, which means it is legally restricted to people over 15 years of age.
But the show has found its way to the far younger ones, drawing attention from doctors.
Experts at the New York Child Mind Institute – a nonprofit dedicated to children’s mental health – recommend that children not watch the series until at least their late teens, whether or not their parents watch.
“The level of violence is appalling – more so than most shows,” David Anderson, head of school and community programs at the Child Mind Institute, said in a statement.
“It’s a murder party with the premise that out of over 400 participants, there can only be one survivor.”
Common Sense Media, which judges series and movies based on appropriate age, called the violence in the show “very intense.”
Characters are systematically tortured and killed for the sadistic pleasure of a game master. “Adults have sex, and there are threats of sexual violence: Women are grabbed by the hair and beaten,” it says.
“Themes about the highlights of playing, winning or cheating money are a focus.”
‘It’s not easy to skip if you do not know it’s coming …’
Earlier this month, Australian cybersecurity educators, Safe on Social Media, issued similar advice after being contacted by several concerned schools.
“Parents should know that the level of violence is very intense in Play squid, and it is not suitable for young teenagers and children of primary school age, ”it said.
“Although adults have overwhelmingly positive reviews about this series, there is a lot of torture and murder that seems to be celebrated.
‘The amount of killings is horrible and the methods are horrible. There is a graphic image of an eyeball being taken out of the body – it is not easy to skip if you do not know it is coming.
“Sensitive or younger viewers should avoid seeing Play squid on Netflix.
“As always, we recommend that you see it first and talk to your children about the themes if you decide to let them see it. Consider the impact and possible desensitization to extreme violence, gambling and addiction.
“Make sure your kids / students know that it’s not okay to play violent games like this at school under any circumstances.”
‘Simply not suitable’
An elementary school in Sydney’s inner west became the first in Australia to ask parents to stop their children from watching the series because of concerns as they take inspiration from the screen to the playground.
In a letter to parents, obtained by 7NEWS.com.au, principal of Dulwich Hill Public School in Sydney’s inner west, Linda Wickham, said children as young as six had seen the series, which depicts “extreme violence and mutilation, strong language and scary moments ”.
Wickham said the show “simply was not suitable for primary and secondary school children” and asked parents to change their Netflix settings and closely monitor their child’s activity online.
“Retaining your children’s capacity to access inappropriate content from age zero to age-appropriate will definitely help keep them safe and their growing minds to stay healthy,” she said.
In a statement to 7NEWS.com.au, a spokesman for NSW Education said: “When schools are made aware of potentially harmful trends, some principals feel an obligation to contact parents.”
“Principals make these decisions at their discretion.”
– with CNN