This is the back-to-school media phenomenon. The one you cannot escape unless you live as a recluse in a cave, the marketing strategy is so well oiled. The South Korean series, Squid Game (“Squid game”), broadcast on Netflix since September 17, broke start-up audience records, with more than 111 million households subscribed to see it, according to figures communicated by the platform.
Ultraviolent dystopia, this fiction features over-indebted characters who participate in traditional children’s games to win the equivalent of 32 million euros. Except that here the rules are radical: whoever loses is shot on the spot. And the writers don’t skimp on hemoglobin.
If Squid Game points to the excesses of capitalism by denouncing king money, not sure that social criticism is understood by the youngest, comments Michel Desmurget, researcher in neuroscience (1). “We are far from 1984 or the Glowing maid, he said. Here, we mainly see a mix of hyperviolence, consumption of alcohol, tobacco and sex scenes, which may affect children’s representations. “
Simon and Hugo, 16 and 17, admit that they have been a bit “Shocked at first” by the gap between children’s games and their morbid variation. But this feeling did not last very long because ” this is not the first time that films have used the principle of deadly games ”, recall the two friends, citing The Hunger Games.
Jean-Michel Blanquer calls for vigilance
Not recommended for children under 16, the South Korean series is nevertheless watched by children, some of whom reproduce violent behavior in the playground. It happened in a school of Erquelinnes, in Belgium, where the losers of the game “one, two, three, sun” were whipped, according to the Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF).
The incident, apparently isolated, made the French Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, react, who also spoke of cases of “imitation” in France and called for the vigilance of all and “ especially parents “.
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If the cause and effect relationship between the violence of images and the acting out is still debated, Michel Desmurget recalls that it is not trivial among the youngest. ” It has long been known that exposure to violent content increases the aggressive behaviors immediately after viewing them and even in the long term if the exposure is regular and important, explains the specialist. This recurrence also causes a desensitization and greater acceptance of violence, an extremely well documented phenomenon, as well as sleep disturbance. “
Educate children about content
Should we then be afraid of Squid game? ” The process of identification at work in front of any fiction is perhaps more powerful with this series which stages children’s games., analyzes psychologist Jean-Luc Aubert (2). But the risk of reproducing violent behavior seems minimal to me and can only concern very fragile children. Whatever the entertainment, he continues, the child above all needs to be accompanied and educated to understand that this is a fiction and not reality. “
Finally, conclude the two specialists, it is also essential to refer to the signage to know which age group the content is aimed at. Even though the series Squid game is not formally prohibited for children under 16, it is not recommended for them. And “Parents must take this into account”, they remind.