Fidget spinners? Yes, you’ve heard of them. Probably a zillion times. They’re everywhere!

So, what do you need to know about these little spinning toys? We’ve got the low-down on what they are, why your child is begging for them and what they can do for her. Oh yeah, and if she does really need one… 

Your kiddo just ran in the door, grabbed your arm and started pulling you towards the closest store that sells fidget spinners. This is all as you’re saying, “What the heck is a fidget spinner?” You get the, “Mummmmmm!” plus eye roll look, and your child tells you that they’re what EVERYONE at school is using.

Hmm. You’re not sold. Sure, they’re not exactly super-expensive. But, why does your child really need one?

Okay, so yes, they are toys. Not only are they toys, but they’ve quickly become one of the hottest toys out there. In case you’ve been hiding out in a deep, dark cave that has no Internet access, they’re ball-bearing devices that kids rotate between their fingers – spinning. Some spinners toss, twirl and create whirling patterns with these toys. Others just use them to fidget with. Or rather, to not fidget.

Parents with kids who have ADHD, anxiety or ASD may already be very familiar with these spinners. The hand-held devices are said to help calm these kids and promotor greater concentration. Instead of tapping a foot, getting up and walking around or being disruptive, kids who needed to fidget could do so with the spinners. Unlike some other forms of fidgeting, the spinners are less intrusive.

Occupational therapists have been using these devices that promote sensory play for years. They can help to soothe children, especially those who have sensory-processing disorders. But, that doesn’t mean the fidget spinners will always do the same thing. These tiny tools may be a bigger distraction that once thought.

Even though fidget spinners started out to help children who has issues controlling their movements and/or concentrating, the recent trend was spurred by everyday use – and that’s by everyone. Yes, some children find that using the spinners actually helps them to concentrate. But, that’s not always the case. Teachers are starting to take the spinners or ban them from classroom use. Instead of focusing on the class content, the kids are spinning away.

Along with causing a major distraction, the spinners may leave kids unable to fend off boredom for themselves. Keep in mind, this isn’t a critique on fidget spinners for use with children who have sensory-processing disorders or other similar issues. It’s the other kids who do have the ability to sit and pay attention that are having the problems. The spinners may be teaching them to expect instant gratification.

Instead of dealing with boredom by recognizing it and demonstrating self-control, spinner use may be telling kids that it’s necessary to be entertained all of the time. Well, it’s not. That is, it’s not necessary to be entertained all of the time. Kids need to get used to navigating boredom. Oh, and teachers need those little eyes to focus – and not on spinners!

Even the team from TIME magazine have had a go, here’s what they think of them!

Have you said yes or no to the fidget spinner? Tell us what you think! 

 

Author

Erica Loop is a mum, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. Along with writing for websites such as PBS Parents, care.com, Scary Mommy, mom.me, Modern Mom, education.com and others, she also is the creator of a kids' activities and art blog.

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