Fidget Spinners: To Spin or Not to Spin
By: Sheila Stinnett, Executive Director
If you aren’t already aware there is a new “must have” object capturing the attention of our nation’s youth the “fidget spinner”. These popular spinning toys have three arms extending from a center of ball bearings which allows the object to spin. Gaining in popularity, sales of this new toy are making it look like the “Pet Rock” of 2017. The spinners come in a multitude of colors and are constructed of a variety of different materials. With more than 8,000 different vendors on Amazon, fidget spinners run the gambit from inexpensive models costing under ten dollars to high end options such as the Torqbar which depending on the materials can run more than $150. So what is the good, bad and ugly when it comes to this latest trendy toy?
Let’s start with the good. Fidget spinners are very entertaining. They are shiny and almost hypnotically engage the user when they are spinning. They are weighted to feel good when you are holding them and the sensations caused by the spinning feel reminiscent of holding a gyroscope. Highly collectable, the fidget spinner craze can be utilized by smart parents as a behavior motivation tool. These things are like potato chips, kids don’t want to seem to stop at just one.
The downside to the popularity of the fidget spinner is the depth of misinformation which surrounds them. The internet is full of claims that fidget spinners can help users with everything from attention issues to anxiety. In reality there has been no documented study that fidget spinners do anything other than entertain the user.
Research has shown that objects which engage sensory systems do appear to improve focus in individuals diagnosed with attentional issues. However, when wanting to enhance focus, fidget objects or activities must be unique to each individual and should be deliberately selected by the user to assist them in the appropriate situation. There is no “one size fits all” fidget object or activity.
The ugly side of fidget spinners can be found in the numerous frustrating posts from educators who are struggling with the reality of a room full of students all staring at the pretty spinning object in their hand instead of focusing on instruction and interacting with peers. This new spinning craze has prompted many school districts nationwide to ban fidget spinners from the classroom.
A truly effective fidget object or activity is something you are not actively mentally engaged with and one which doesn’t distract you or others from a completing the task at hand. A stress ball held in the palm of the hand when completing assignments is appropriate and less distracting than a sparkly spinner whirling between the fingers. Fidgets as a general rule are tools to sharpen focus, not shiny collectable objects who mesmerize children with each flashy turn.
If you are looking to maximize your child’s attention there are a host of less inexpensive options other than permitting your child to invest large portions of their allowance in this latest trend. Some research based activities to improve focus and attention to task include; the use of multicolored scented pens and pencils, doodling, chewing gum or sucking on candy, listening to music, use of a timer, and finding ways to incorporate frequent movement during lengthy activities.
If you are looking a way to entertain your child and make them the envy of their friends, purchasing multiple fidget spinners appears right now to be the way to go. However, Business Insider recently stated that the fidget spinner craze was peaking and the next “must have item” will be rolling out within the next 12 months so you may want to wait to catch the next trendy wave. Edmond Family Counseling is your community resource for mental health. Please check our website, http://www.edmondfamily.org, and “like us” on Facebook to support our mission or schedule an appointment.