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Squid Game, Netflix
Squid GameCourtesy of Netflix

UK council calls out Squid Game as ‘violent’ challenges go viral on TikTok

Experts have played down the latest panic about children recreating games such as ‘Red Light, Green Light’ from the hit Netflix series

A UK council is urging parents to restrict access to the wildly popular Netflix hit Squid Game, amid fears that challenges depicted in the show are being recreated by their children. The warning, from the Central Bedfordshire council, also highlights the fact that Squid Game scenes are being circulated on YouTube and TikTok, where they can potentially be viewed regardless of the series’ 15+ age rating.

In case you somehow haven’t glimpsed the green and white tracksuits of the Squid Game cast yet and have no idea what’s going on with the South Korean thriller, here’s a quick overview: debt-ridden citizens are selected to compete in a series of games for a massive cash prize — if they fail, they die.

Dubbed Netflix’s biggest ever original show, Squid Game has already spilled out into the real world, inspiring an IRL version in Abu Dhabi (without all the killing, obviously), as well as countless TikTok parodies.

There have also been “some concerning reports recently about children and young people ‘playing’ Squid Game whilst at school,” the Central Bedfordshire council notice reads. “Squid Game is also being viewed via other platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, and given the popularity of the games in the show, developers have made various mini-games based on Squid Game on Roblox and other gaming platforms.”

“We strongly advise that children should not watch Squid Game. The show is quite graphic with a lot of violent content.”

Of course, children aren’t out there shooting each other in a recreation of Squid Game’s viral “Red Light, Green Light” challenge, which sees hundreds of characters gunned down in what’s essentially a massive game of What Time is it Mr Wolf?. However, a school in Belgium has reported (via the Brussels Times) that children are beating each other up in lieu of using guns. 

In a dedicated post by the safeguarding partnership Safer Schools, the “Honeycomb Challenge” — which sees players inscribe a shape on a thin disc of honeycomb without breaking it — is also singled out as a dangerous game. “If a child attempts to recreate the ‘Honeycomb Game’, there is a risk of burns from caramelised sugar if they attempt to make the honeycomb themselves,” the post reads, which honestly feels like a bit of a reach. “Some users have also tried heating sharp objects over flames like characters in the show to make cutting an image out of honeycomb easier.”

While there have been reports of Squid Game reenactments on the playground at multiple schools across the UK, however, the panic is obviously nothing new. TikTok alone has inspired countless potentially-dangerous challenges over the years, including the recent Milk Crate Challenge, the Benadryl Challenge, the Skull-Breaker Challenge, and who can forget the Tide Pod Challenge?

Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology at LSE, also points out that fears about these challenges are usually blown out of proportion, telling i News: “It’s pretty unheard of for these crazes to lead to reliably harmful behaviour.”