Play is what children do. They do not build houses or make tools, and they do not compete for mates. Children are dependent on their parents, who take on the often-burdensome responsibility of feeding, sheltering and protecting their offspring. Children in contemporary culture may seem especially likely to play, where the struggle for survival is not so arduous and the everyday perils not so great. But children's play is not a reward for technological advancement - a luxury for the culturally well-heeled. In fact, children in industrialized and schooled cultures likely have more demands placed on them than children in traditional cultures. Psychologist Yumi Gosso from the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil and her colleagues write that children from hunter-gather societies "neither hunt nor gather, they do not build houses and shelters, they do not cook or clean. In fact, the life of children, at least under 7 years of age, is mostly, if not solely, a playful life. From early morning to bedtime, they play, typically all together." The lives of children in America, Great Britain, and other first-world countries are likely not as playful or carefree as those of some hunter-gatherer children. We restrict and regulate our children's activities more so than parents in traditional cultures, limiting what children do and with whom they do it. And a frequent activity for many children, watching television, is clearly entertainment, but most people would not classify it as play. Nevertheless, despite parental restrictions and not so playful alternative entertainment, preschool children in contemporary societies spend much of their time playing.
David F Bjorklund; 2007
Why youth is not wasted on the young - Immaturity in Human Development