One of the challenges of the digital age is how fast things spread. So when a new TV show or movie resonates with someone it can seem like ‘everyone’ is watching it. When everyone is watching it, and your child starts watching it, we can feel that it must be okay.
One recent example of this is the show “Squid Game” on Netflix. I need to be honest – the more i’ve learned about this show the more it’s left me squirming in discomfort. Now full disclosure – I have not watched this show. I won’t watch this show. This show is #1 on Netflix and is a Korean drama. The show is based on hundreds of individuals in poverty who are chosen to fight to the death through a series of children’s games to win a prize of $38 million dollars. The money comes from the wealthy who wish to be entertained by the poor.
If this show sounds violent – it is. Incredibly. One of the tools I use to evaluate media for myself and family is the IMDB database which has a Parent’s Guide. You can check out the Parent’s guide for Squid Game here. If you review it you see there is some inappropriate sexual content and the Violence & Gore section is listed as severe. There is also a moderate amount of profanity. The show itself is rated as TV-MA. IN Canada that means the rating is 18+. To add to the issue, there are now games that can be downloaded on devices that seem fun and innocent that promote and advertise Squid Game giving the sense that the show is child-friendly.
Despite the ratings I’m hearing of children in Elementary school watching this show. Many parents unaware the real content of the show. Parents -this is a reminder that in our culture we need to be actively engaged with the content our children are watching and listening to. DO not assume that just because your child’s friends are watching something that it is okay or that their friend’s parents are informed.
There are a number of resources we can use – whether it be reviewing content on Parent’s Guides or enforcing age restrictions in streaming accounts with services like Netflix. There are many other tools we can use, but nothing beats having meaningful, ongoing conversations with your children about what is appropriate and what is not, and engaging in discussions about what they are seeing and hearing, and what their friends are seeing and hearing. I would encourage parents to not just watch shows with their children, but to watch them in advance if they are unsure.
Finally parents – let’s communicate with each other about these concerns. As we hear of them, let’s have honest and non-judgemental conversations about the media our children are watching. Let’s partner together to agree on what is appropriate and what is not. What we expose our children to shapes their values but also has lasting impact on their overall mental and spiritual health. Let’s work together towards healthier children and healthier families.
This needs to be about more than one show. This needs to be an ongoing engagement we have with parents. Whether it be what social media your child uses, what media they watch, or what their activities in person are we as parents are responsible on setting boundaries and guiding our children. Let’s step up to the task so we have a healthy generation to follow us.
In case you think I may be overstating or overreacting – check out this article from CNN: