SEOUL -- Some 460 elementary schools in South Korea will be connected through virtual rooms where students can play football, volleyball and golf, using virtual reality technology. An integrated platform will harness all virtual rooms to a single network.
To protect young students from harsh environmental factors such as microscopic particles floating in the air and extreme heat, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism rolled out a test project to build virtual sports rooms at 10 elementary schools in 2017. A total of 361 schools introduced a special platform where students can compete with their classmates in a virtual reality-based physical recreation game.
The sports ministry said in a statement on April 21 that it would set up virtual sports rooms at 100 more schools and provide an upgraded and integrated 5G-connected platform so that students can enjoy 123 kinds of sports content and compete with other schools.
"Currently, we are focusing on the development of the integrated 5G-connected platform. We will host regular inter-school competitions using virtual sports rooms in the future," Cho Sang-jun, an official at the ministry's sports business bureau, told Aju Business Daily.
"We hope that the virtual sports room platform would help students engage more in physical activities," Cho said. Because of a coronavirus pandemic, health authorities have restricted outdoor activities to prevent COVID-19 infection, leading to an increase in obesity.
Government officials have launched a campaign to reduce the consumption of sugar in processed food and carbonated drinks, urging food companies to come up with low-sugar products and e substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners. According to the education ministry, the obesity rate of students in 2019 stood at 15.1 percent, up 1.5 percent from 2017's.
A 2020 survey of 1.3 million students showed that 283,363 were categorized into a group of smartphone-attached users, up 21 percent from 233,397 in 2018. The number of students who are overly attached to smartphones has also increased during the pandemic.
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