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Kids’ take on pandemic

From nasal swab for teddy bears to vaccine syringe-shaped stationary, COVID-19 makes its way into play time

April 30, 2022 - 16:00 By Choi Jae-hee
Children mimic what they have observed. Through role-playing activities, they try to make sense of the world around them.

So it may be only natural that the COVID-19 pandemic has permeated young children’s play, with words like corona, PCR and vaccine firmly in their vocabulary now.

Here are some of social media posts that show how young kids are having fun in the COVID-19 era.

Learning how to properly PCR

Plastic straws for nasal swab sticks. Pieces of paper cut in a rectangular shape with what appears to be letters T and C drawn on it. Kids at day cares are acting out the COVID-19 home-test that they are required to take once or twice a week for some time now.

On social media, several parents have testified about the popularity of a mock COVID-19 test, which kids themselves call “PCR play.” PCR stands for a polymer chain reaction test, which was until recently the only diagnostic test for COVID-19 recognized by authorities here.

Instagram user @lay_haruhana shows two boys acting out PCR play, with the boy on the left playing the role of a health care worker doing a nasal swab on his friend with a cotton stick at an undisclosed day care center. 

Twitter user @JaesikKwak shared a picture of a mock COVID-19 self-test kit made with plastic straws and paper by some children. 

Stuffed toys stand in line waiting to get a PCR test, as a kid recreates a testing center at home, in a post uploaded in a mom’s online community on Naver. 

A video from YouTuber Marble Balloon Shop shows two children acting out scenes at COVID-19 testing facilities, conducting the swab test on a paper doll while wearing plastic gloves. 

Testing is not everything in the COVID-19 fight. Disinfection of potentially contaminated areas is also important, as demonstrated by this child by playing the role of a quarantine worker, using an air balloon pump as a prop.

COVID-themed stationery

The presence of COVID-19 in every child‘s life is palpable at stationery shops, with a range of pandemic-inspired school supplies and toys. 

Mechanical pencils resemble syringes, with the words vaccine and COVID-19 written on the package. Erasers take the shape of round tablets of Tylenol. 

Walkie talkie toys as seen in this Naver blog have also recently gained popularity for children who have to communicate with their parents and family members on the other side of doors or walls as they self-isolate due to virus infection.

By Choi Jae-hee (