An overwhelming majority of UK consumers believe that society would benefit if children and adults were encouraged to play more often.
According to a survey from the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) and Mailorderexpress.com, 96 per cent of consumers feel that the therapeutic power of play is an essential part of childhood that is being underestimated in today's world.
The survey of over 2,800 consumers looked at how the public viewed the importance of play and toys.
With Christmas upon us, the poll also found that 86 per cent of UK individuals rate the role of toys in fostering enjoyment and play as 'very important'.
Clive Jones, chairman of BTHA, said: "For a long time we have realised how vital the value of play is to children and adults.
"It is great to see that so many individuals are recognising the significance of play and all the benefits that it can provide for the person, whether it be a child or an adult."
Helen Goodman, chief executive at charity Play Matters, added: "Opportunities and time for play are intrinsic to a good childhood.
"Children naturally want to learn, and playing, experimenting and exploring is the way they do it. The right toy at the right time really can make a difference."
The online survey was conducted over an eight-week period between September and November 2004. Questionnaires were completed by 2,845 consumers and visitors to the Mail Order Express website.
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