Protection of minors in the media and Squid Game – legal guardians are responsible

Marc Jan Eumann takes legal guardians to account in the debate about Squid Game. (picture alliance / dpa / Horst Galuschka)
The ministries of culture in Bavaria and Thuringia have warned against the Netflix series Squid Game. One perceives from the private environment that children and adolescents emulate the games in the series, which is sometimes very explicit in its depiction of violence, said a spokesman for the Thuringian Ministry of Education in relation to the MDR.

The ministry therefore recommends that the series should only be made available to young people aged 16 and over – from this age onwards, Netflix also recommends the series, and the responsible association for multimedia voluntary self-regulation (FSM) has also confirmed this age restriction.

Netflix users have a duty

“In my opinion, Netflix has complied with the legal regulations,” said Marc Jan Eumann, chairman of the commission for the protection of minors in the media, on Deutschlandfunk.

Scene from the survival game "Squid Game" with: Lee Jung-jae, Greg Chun, Stephen Fu. Netflix series from South Korea, 2021.

A subject for ethics class
Squid Game is about a life-and-death competition, brutally staged. Nevertheless, one does not have to generally fear for the emotional well-being of young viewers, says media educator Björn Friedrich.

“You have carried out an age rating for the offer, and Netflix users can use the settings to ensure precisely: who in my household can actually use this content?”

In order to protect children from potentially harmful content, the streaming platforms offer various types of parental controls – unlike linear television, where content for children over the age of 16 is not broadcast until late in the evening, this type of security is provided by streaming providers such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video does not.

Platforms offer various parental controls

This is where these providers also differ from public media libraries, where potentially youth-endangering content is only offered late at night – unless this function is deactivated via age verification.

In the style from Squid Game, men in tracksuits descend a winding spiral staircase.

Squid Game addresses poverty in South Korea
With green you can walk, with red you have to stand. This is how a traditional Korean children’s game works. The Netflix series Squid Game made it famous all over the world. Also as a mirror of Korean society.

Instead, the US providers have introduced their own youth protection systems, which have been officially recognized by the Association for Voluntary Self-Control Multimedia (FSM) and classified as suitable within the meaning of the State Treaty on Youth Media Protection.

With Netflix, for example, different profiles can be set up. An individual age rating can be set for each of these sub-accounts and additionally secured with a PIN. Parents can set up parental controls on Amazon Prime Video.

Information portals for legal guardians

This means that – unlike linear television – users of the streaming service are responsible for protecting their children from content that is harmful to minors.

“Parents have to decide: what do I want and what my children use? Just like in other areas of life, ”demands Eumann. The chairman of the commission for the protection of minors in the media does not consider a legal regulation to be practicable.

The excitement about the series “Squid Game” shows, however, that there is a lot of uncertainty among legal guardians. He therefore recommends offers such as klicksafe or media childproof to people with questions in this area. Among other things, it explains how child protection settings are made on streaming sites or how children’s smartphones can be set up safely.
Further information for legal guardians