South Korean kids get just 34 minutes of outside play time a day

Posted on : 2016-05-11 16:16 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Amount of time spent playing is less than a third of the time enjoyed by American children
Children’s time spent outdoors
Children’s time spent outdoors

Children in South Korea spend an average of just 34 minutes outside each day, which is less than 30% of the time spent by children in the US, a study found.

“In our study of exposure factors for South Korean children - including the time they spend in each place, the amount of food that they eat and their respiratory rate - children between the ages of three and nine spend an average of 34 minutes outside per day, which is just 29% of the 1 hour and 59 minutes spent by children in the US,” the National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) said on May 10.

Exposure factors refer to the values of a number of variables (the concentration of pollutants, body weight, respiratory rate and period and frequency of exposure, for example) that are used to assess the degree of exposure to environmental pollutants. From 2013 until last year, NIER studied 23 exposure factors for young people and teenagers who were 18 years old and younger. Various age groups were found to spend the following amount of time outside: 27 minutes for 0-2 years, 32 minutes for 3-6 years, 36 minutes for 7-9 years, 35 minutes for 10-12 years, 34 minutes for 13-15 years, and 43 minutes for 16-18 years. With the exception of infants and young children, middle school students spent the least amount of time outside.

The respiratory rate, or the amount of air that is breathed in during the course of the day, is used to assess exposure to toxic substances through the respiratory system. The study found that the respiratory rate for South Korean children between the ages of five and six was 10.8 cubic meters on average. This was higher than Japan (9.9 cubic meters) and lower than the US (12.16 cubic meters).

The study also examined infants’ tendency to suck on their fingers and other objects. At two years and below, infants sucked on their fingers an average of 3.9 times an hour and sucked on other objects 4.4 times an hour. Infant sucking lasted an average of 8.41 minutes an hour, which was shorter than the approximately 11 minutes that American children spent sucking. The NIER believes that this difference results from the fact that South Korean parents and teachers try to stop children from sucking their fingers or other objects.

By Lee Keun-young, senior staff writer

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