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Head of Prep School Update

College Blog Head of Preparatory School Update
3 November 2021

In this week's article, Head of Preparatory School, John Stewart discusses how to address the issue of viewing age appropriate content with your child.

You may have heard or even seen the Netflix TV series out of South Korea called Squid Game. This show features 456 contestants who volunteer for a show where the sole winner will take home millions of dollars. The games played are well-known children’s games like red light/ green light and tug-o’-war. The catch is that the losers of each game are killed, in brutal and graphic ways. While the show is rated MA 15+, that has not prevented children from viewing the series. I know of schools where red light/ green light has re-emerged as a playground game amongst older and younger children. It makes one wonder what provoked them to play this game.

The series may have been a topic of conversation in some homes or workplaces amongst young adults and co-workers. The question arises regarding how we would feel if our adolescent or primary school-aged children were to view it. Of course, now, accessibility of content through social media and apps means that even if a child is not looking for it, it is likely to end up somewhere in their viewable content – through shares of friends, tagging, or simply seeing it on TikTok or YouTube.

While our children may not view Squid Game directly, they may hear about it or play a game in the playground led by a child who has watched the series. So how do we address this series and its implications with our children? We need to educate them about risks and teach them what to do if they see it, just as we educate them about other risks they may face. Parents are very good at talking with their children about how to cross a road or be safe in a crowd. Managing the internet and streaming services as a child is another skill we need to teach our children.

Claire Orange from Digii Social (10.10.21) has provided some sound advice on how to address the issue of viewing inappropriate content with your child. She advises approaching this matter as we would with most parenting issues, talk about Squid Game but don’t mention the specific content and that it is not meant for children. Claire feels that naming the actual content would not be helpful as the inappropriate content they will see in this show and others will vary. Instead, she suggests we focus on the type of content we are worried about, provide helpful suggestions, and put in boundaries. Claire provides an outline for the possible conversation with your child:

  • Do all your friends have the same restrictions on what they see online?
  • What do you think about age restrictions – are they good or bad?
  • What happens when someone sees stuff that you’re not allowed to see?
  • Can that turn into games that you play at school?
  • Give me some examples. Is there something being played now that you think might not be something that I’d let you watch?
  • How would you know if it wasn’t appropriate – something that would make me feel upset for you to be playing?
  • What could you do about it?
  • What might go wrong if you decide not to play or ask to play the game in a way that’s right for your age? Does that make you feel worried?
  • How can I help if you see something you think you shouldn’t, or if someone tells you about it? What would be helpful for me to do? What would put you off telling me?

Claire cautions us that each question may provide an answer we were not expecting, and we need to be sure not to respond in a manner that alarms our children. As Claire states, “Make sure you’ve sent your face the memo about being open to listening so that no over-horrified or disgusted looks pop up.”

Claire’s main message is that we need to manage the conversation with our children such that it encourages and makes them feel safe and secure to share with us how they feel if they do view inappropriate content. Squid Game may be the series to help launch that conversation. She encourages us to share our experiences from when we were young about movies we may have seen that disturbed or upset us and how speaking with our parents helped even though we may have been worried they would get angry with us.

Our children are growing up in a digital world, and access to content is easy. We need to equip them with the skills and strategies for when they see inappropriate content. They need to know they can rely on their parents to listen to them and provide some simple suggestions on how to manage what they view and how they feel. Parents can check the parent settings for their internet and streaming services and make checking in with their children about what they view and what they hear from their friends a regular part of their families’ conversations.

The Australian Council on Children and the Media has provided comment and recommendation to parents regarding Squid Game:

Digii Social provides evidence based cyber-education information for schools and parents. Claire’s full article can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

John Stewart
Head of Preparatory School