Young Korean children spend too much time studying and not enough time playing outside, a study suggests.
According to the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education, even five-year-olds spend an average of three hours a day sitting down with learning materials but just over an hour playing outside. The data is based on a survey last year of 2,276 parents and instructors of private classes.
As more and more parents start sending their kids to private classes earlier than ever before, children end up swamped with pressure to learn things before they can even ride a bike. Even two-year-olds spend an average of an hour and nine minutes a day being taught something, while children aged five spend two hours and 55 minutes.
In advanced countries, preschoolers may go to swimming or dancing classes, but are rarely asked to sit down and work with learning materials. Even elementary schoolkids are given less than 30 minutes’ worth of homework a day.
The trend in Korea has resulted in giving kids less time to play. Two-year-old children spend only an hour and 10 minutes playing outside a day, and five-year-olds just about an hour.
Australian health officials recommend that three- to five-year-old children spend at least three hours playing outside every day and warn against them being forced to sit still for more than an hour at a time. A researcher at the institute said, “Korean children are at risk of suffering from stunted growth due to excessive studying”.
The study also looked at how much time young children spend watching TV or using smart devices. It found that five-year-olds spend an hour and 12 minutes a day glued to electronic devices, while two-year-olds spend an hour and 14 minutes.
Researchers said exposure rises to more than two hours if you include audio/visual education programs on TV and the Internet. Yet experts in the U.S. and Australia recommend that children under two should watch no TV or videos at all, and children between two and five should watch no more than an hour.
Kim Eun-young at the institute said, “Korean parents need to realize that excessive studying could harm their children by causing anxiety and depression”.