Alongside my Private Practice, I manage a Gemach assisting orphans at the time they marry. To assist with this we have a store and sell items to raise money to manage this Gemach and to help our orphans further. There are times we get young mothers in financial difficulty come in and ask if we have any toys at low cost. When I put out a question on various social networking forums to find out if anyone has toys in good condition that they no longer need, I often receive complaints that toys are not a necessity.
The truth is that play has a very important role to play in the development of a child not only during childhood but it has carry over to their adult life and functioning in adulthood too. In a recent article published in the American Journal of Play, discussed in an article on the Neuroscience of Why Children Play, research was carried out on the effects of play in rodents and some primates with very interesting outcome. The study shows that there is a definite benefit to a child being able to play and engage in free play. This activity does have a benefit later in life, enhancing development in social competence, cognition and emotional regulation.
The article points out the needs of today's time to supervise play especially regarding safety. However, children do need to have both time and the freedom to engage in play. Playing is not only fun, though this too is important, but is a crucial phase of their development as children and to ensure well adjusted adults.