how to explain school violence from nursery school?

Since Squid Game landed on Netflix in September, the craze for the South Korean series has become global, to the point of inviting itself into the playgrounds where children reproduce the violent gestures seen on the screen.

If the series-event is an international cardboard, several schools in France, but also abroad – in Belgium, in Quebec and in England – gave the alert after having spotted violent behavior inspired by the sadistic games of Squid Game in the playground.

After the assault of a student at Toulouse, it’s in Indre-et-Loire that violence was identified at the beginning of the week. Even if the phenomenon remains rather punctual in France, the young age of children affected by the reproduction of these violent acts is worrying. These are mainly students from primary and of middle School, but it now also affects children in large sections of kindergarten. The Kaspersky France-IFOP study, published on November 4 on the occasion of the International Day for Combating Violence and Bullying in Schools, sheds light on these worrying facts: it reveals that at least 6 out of 10 children were faced with violent images before the end of college.

Epiphenomena revealing a global societal mechanism

For Stephane Blocquaux, doctor in information and communication sciences and author of the book The digital bottle, this series of contextual violence, linked to the universe of Squid Game, is a symptom of a more general problem, namely the development of violent content :

There have always been violent films. In my day there was already violent stuff on TV, but not in that amount. It was not so easy to be afraid: horror films were forbidden to under 18s and we did not watch them. We gradually overexposed and trivialized images of violence, and Squid Game is just one of the problems. It goes beyond the question of parental control, the problem is societal and poses the following question: is there not an urgent need to slow down the production of violent, brutal and sexual images?

This explosion of violent content is all the more problematic as we do not all have the same faculty of apprehension facing them. And this is, for Stéphane Blocquaux, what is particularly significant with Squid Game, and what generated polemic : “What makes people talk about Squid Game is the fact that we touch on children’s games. It’s a kind of meta phenomenon: it is children who are affected because we touch children’s games. Imitate violence, they do it constantly, and always: it is nothing new. During recess, we only reproduce what we see around us. And there, what shocks, it is the diversion of children’s games, supposed to be calm and naive, and what touches life is diverted to cause death.

Platforms that function as diffusers of violence

But for this violent content to touch in such a way viral a very young audience, another factor comes into the equation: that of distribution circuits.

Pierre Faivre, spokesperson for a youth mutual that conducted a study on school bullying and cyberstalking, points to the problematic role of platforms like TikTok :

We are faced with the problem of accelerators, broadcasters like TikTok, which offers content in an even faster form than what we can see on Instagram or Facebook. And it is on TikTok that we have seen challenges inspired by Squid Game and which encourage a reproduction of gestures but without having access to the continuity of the story or possessing the maturity necessary to intellectualize them.

He explains that this social network, which Gen Z has appropriated, has always been conducive to hosting very brutal videos : “TikTok is the media for young people. The mechanics for a younger population is to appropriate their media, to abandon media that are known to parents, such as Instagram or Facebook, and therefore to take refuge on TikTok where we already had phenomena of violence: we film police arrests in the street, fights, provocative scenesAnd there the parental gaze on TikTok is almost absent, we have trouble controlling it“.

But TikTok is not the only platform to be involved in this viralization violent content. For Stéphane Blocquaux, “The culprit is Youtube”. It is explained:

I’m a little fed up with content aggregators and people who don’t deal with rights issues. Youtube goes beyond resuming teasers, it goes so far as to broadcast complete content without pre-established filtering. We have a media that completely mocks respect for minors in society. You are not allowed to have Squid Game at 8 p.m. on TF1, and you have it at any time on Youtube.

The fiftieth birthday himself has experienced, with his son, the globalization of the Squid Game phenomenon, despite the precautions he had taken as a parent: “One day, one of my children starts talking to me about Squid Game, while at home it’s still very locked in view of my work. So I said to him, ‘How did you play Squid Game?’ And there he explains to me that in Minecraft, there is a Squid Game skin. That is to say that on Youtube, there are aficionados of the game Minecraft who went to reproduce the tests of Squid Game directly in Minecraft. So it’s everywhere, it’s pollution“.

A phenomenon maintained in particular by influencers like the Youtubeur Darko : followed by more than 1.3 million subscribers, it has just been released on November 14 a video where he reproduced the universe of the series and in particular the experience of the deadly sun 1,2,3. If in the video the losers are not executed, the fact remains that any the violence of the series shines through in this tribute video.

A shared responsibility

But about the school violence inherited from the controversial series, a question remains unanswered: who to blame for these abuses ? For the experts we surveyed, the state clearly has a role to play in controlling the distribution circuit of such violent content, but also platforms, who have every interest in assuming their responsibilities as well.

But the heart of the problem lies with the family unit: for Pierre Faivre, the responsibility lies with the parents in the educational model itself, and not just at the level of parental control: “The problem is that parental controls are not worth much and are easily bypassed. It’s the use of phones that poses the problem: when you’re a child and you see your parents all the time on their phones, it’s a bit complicated to explain afterwards that the phone is just utility. On the viewing side, the control is technically complicated. And I don’t believe in support during a viewing: there is no support possible for shocking content, that’s why there are measures like ‘forbidden to under 16s ‘ “.

In France, Squid Game is indeed Forbidden to under 16s, but some parents allow viewing below this age threshold. For the national education psychologist Hassina Bouchemla, this indicator should be put into perspective:

I think that the ban may be sufficient but should above all be regulated according to the teenager’s maturity, so it is up to parents to control the use of screens. Parents have a great responsibility: to get to know their children, to help their children get to know each other better, to help them decipher what they can see on the screens.. There is no age limit: it’s dynamic, it depends on each child, it’s up to each parent to take responsibility and allow their child, according to their emotional sensitivity, to control the situation. ‘access he can have to this kind of series.

the educational role of parents therefore appears central to this issue of school violence derived from shocking content. In his book The digital bottle, Stéphane Blocquaux notably delivers some very concrete keys to guide destitute parents: “The job is to show some form of positive education. We have ridiculed benevolence so much, we have associated it so much with weakness and silliness that we give children this injunction to be wary of others, to be afraid of them, to want to oust them. The advice is therefore to promote construction games – the idea being to build rather than destroy – and contents where we will take the real measure of planetary suffering, as in the documentary On the way to school, where we point out certain realities but without exploiting their violence, unlike Squid Game“.

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