This Morning: Bristol lecturer issues Squid Game warning on ITV


A Bristol University lecturer has warned parents of the dangers of shows like Squid Game saying it can have a behavioural impact on children

Dr Nilufar Ahmed spoke to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ITV’s This Morning about the impact the hit Netflix show can have on children.

Schools and parents have raised serious concerns about the levels of violence shown in the 15 rated series.

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Some schools have sent letters to parents over these concerns, worrying playground trends have also emerged, and the public conversation around violence on TV has picked up once again.

Speaking to Phil and Holly, Dr Ahmed spoke about the link between violent material and the behaviour of children.

“There’s lots of research that shows that children who watch violent programmes sleep less well than children who don’t have exposure to those kinds of material. So it does affect children’s sleep, which of course will impact everything else, it’ll impact their performance at school, how well they’re feeling, their interaction with their peers.

She did clarify that just because you watch something violent, “it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily go out and be more violent”, but added: “there is a correlation.”

“Children who watch violent programmes may display more aggressive behaviours, but that can be mediated by things like having conversations with children, understanding, getting them to think more empathetically.

“So if this was real, if you saw your friend being hit, how would you feel about that? [It’s about] creating more real conversations.”

Phillip Schofield referenced the ever-present fear in parents that TV shows and films can have a negative effect on children, saying that his parents were “terrified” that the Amityville Horror film series would “mess me up”, adding: “I don’t think it did”.

The chartered psychologist argued that children will always find a way to watch shows like this due to “peer pressure”, and that parents should use the show as a “teachable moment”.

“I think that it’s very difficult to moderate what children can and can’t do, especially as they’re a little bit older and become teenagers, they’ll find a way. And that’s what social media has created, spaces and bubbles that people can access that material.

“So if you do have children that are watching this or really want to watch it, it’s important to have that communication, have those conversations about what this programme is about, and why they want to watch it. Is it peer pressure? Is it really wanting to know about the story?

“And if children are watching it, have those discussions about what the programme is depicting, the extreme levels of violence, and that actually, that level of violence is fictional; it’s not real.”

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She also emphasised that Squid Game explores many themes other than violence.

“There has been some betrayal, there are themes of friendship. How far would you go if you were in a pickle if you were really struggling? Would you put your life at risk? Would you put the life of loved ones at risk?”

She strongly encourages having those conversations with children because, as Phil pointed out, children will feel a sense of “FOMO” if all of their friends have seen it but they are not allowed to.

“Having conversations are really important because we know from lots of research, we know from conversations with young people that young people will find a way to watch this”.

Squid Game is one of the most popular shows available to watch right now, having become a global phenomenon.

Netflix announced yesterday that the series is their biggest ever global debut hit, attracting over 111 million viewers worldwide.

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