UPDATED with Netflix statement: Americans watched 3 billion minutes of Netflix’s blockbuster hit Squid Game last week. Some of those viewers, apparently, were kids who now are clamoring for Squid-related Halloween costumes.
A study this week found costumes from the smash series are among the most popular looks being hashtagged on Instagram. Early this week, fashion retailer New Look found the term “Squid Game costumes” among the top 10 most-Instagrammed Halloween looks. It had over 2,000 hashtags, according to the survey.
That number had jumped by more than 50% today, with 3,100 such hashtags showing in a similar Instagram search. Many of the photos accompanying the Squid Games hashtagged posts are of children dressed in the show’s trademark green track suits or hooded pink jumpsuits.
Netflix rates the show for Mature Audiences, meaning it “may not be suitable for ages 17 and under,” according to the streamer’s ratings classification page. The content warning at the beginning of the show’s first episode warns of “language, violence, sex, nudity, suicide, smoking.” In other words, probably not for kids.
“Squid Game is rated TV-MA and intended for mature audiences,” a Netflix spokesperson told Deadline when contacted about the subject. “We offer parents a wide variety of parental controls to make the appropriate choices for their families.”
Fayetteville-Manlius School District Superintendent Dr. Craig Tice made the decision to ban Squid Games Halloween looks after staff noticed students “mimicking” the show’s violent games, he told USA Today, which also notes that the district is near Syracuse and includes three elementary schools.
“Some of our younger students are talking about and mimicking aspects of the show/game at school,” Tice said in a statement. “Parents and guardians … have the opportunity to speak with their children themselves about it and reinforce the school message that games associated with violent behavior are not appropriate for recess.”
The Panama City-area Bay District schools also warned in a Facebook post last week that some of its students “are trying to replicate show scenes at school, but what sounds harmless (who didn’t play Red Light/Green Light as a kid?) is not actually harmless because the game in the television show includes ‘elimination’ (death) and we are seeing kids trying to actually hurt each other in the name of this ‘game.'” It warned of “discipline referrals” for students who reenacted “violent ‘games’ at school.”
Educators in the UK Australia and Belgium have made similar observations and issued similar warnings to parents.
The costume/mimicking concerns sparked by Squid Games are not the only recent controversy over the impact of Netflix’s content in the real world. Earlier this month, comments centered on the trans and LGBTQ+ communities from Dave Chappelle in his latest Netflix special The Closer ignited criticism and protests from trans activists and supporters that prompted a walkout of Netflix employees in L.A. and a statement from co-CEO Ted Sarandos, which he later admitted he “screwed up.”