Just How Violent is Netflix’s “Squid Game”?

Written by PTC | Published October 26, 2021

Squid Game on Netflix is now officially a global phenomenon, and that’s not just according to Netflix’s PR department. The temptation might be strong to let your kids hop on the bandwagon – but it is rated TV-MA for a reason.

According to filter data from Vid Angel, there were 301 instances of violence and gore across 9 episodes; including scenes of people being mowed down by guns, shot in the head, scenes of dead bodies piled up, and even depictions of organ harvesting. Squid Game's nine episodes also contained 305 profanities and 10 instances of sex with nudity.

Educators in Belgium, England and Australia have started issuing warnings to parents about the program after reports of children copying games and violence from the show.

Brad Bushman, a professor of communication at Ohio State University and a leading expert on the effects of media violence on children says, “The research shows that exposure to violent media increases aggressive thoughts… It increases angry feelings. It increases physiological arousal, like heart rate and blood pressure.” He adds, watching violent TV “decreases feelings of empathy and compassion for others. It makes people numb to the pain and suffering of others, which researchers call desensitization, and it decreases pro-social behaviors like helping others, cooperation and sharing things.”

Squid Game’s explosive popularity has been due largely to word-of-mouth and social media. The hashtag #SquidGame has had 49.1 billion views on teen and tween-dominated TikTok. Worldwide, “Squid Game” has received more than 12 million mentions across social media platforms and a reach of more than 36 trillion.

The viral marketing of “Squid Game” is trickling down to younger audiences through Roblox, Minecraft, and YouTube – sparking interest in the series among viewers too young to handle the intensely violent content.

In the aftermath of the Columbine school shootings, the Federal Trade Commission looked at internal marketing memos from entertainment companies – video game publishers, movie studios, television networks – and found that they were deliberately marketing violent, mature-rated content to children.

In this era of social media and streaming video, entertainment companies no longer need to dirty their hands with print advertisements in publications targeted to teens, or expensive TV ads on shows popular with younger viewers. They can now rely on social media influencers to encourage young viewers to consume their violent content. That means parents need to be more vigilant than ever to keep their children away from harmful media influences and to empower their kids to stand-up to peer pressure to watch programs they shouldn’t be watching.

Take Action. Stay Informed.