Fidget spinners continue to disappoint

Fidget+spinners+continue+to+disappoint

Photo by Ellen Spencer

Neya Thanikachalam, Editor-in-chief

In the small window of time between the introduction of fidget spinners and the subsequent banning of them in school, I’d walk the hallways and see my classmates flaunting their spinning skills, but never felt a need to actually buy one. However, after hearing about the benefits fidget spinning could offer, I did want to test one out.

I’m a naturally jumpy person. I’m always tapping my foot on the ground or playing with a strand of my hair. It takes a conscious effort for me to stop myself from doing either of those things. Fidget spinners are supposed to help with
problems such as mine. 

As pediatric occupational therapist Claire Heffron said when interviewed by the Washington Post, “[Fidget spinners] can be a part for a successful strategy for managing fidgety behavior if they are introduced as a normal part of the classroom culture.”

Many fidget spinners are even marketed as gadgets that will increase concentration or creativity, or both. Armed with this information and some encouragement from my brother (who also wanted one — with a cool design, of course), I went out and bought one. They weren’t very hard to find; they’re everywhere.

My attempt to spin the spinner did not go very well. Due to my small hands and lack of coordination, I had difficulty getting the spinner to balance and spin at the same time. My repeated attempts were unsuccessful. On the other hand,
my brother was pretty good at it, but got bored of it quickly and abandoned it on our couch. Now we have a fidget spinner that no one uses.

In fact, many people have a negative reaction to fidget spinners, most of them school teachers or administrators. For instance, an Evanston elementary school teacher, Kate Ellison, told the Chicago Tribune that fidget spinners are a distraction in the classroom, and there are other options for students with special needs to use to avoid distraction.

Scientists have even found that the assertion that fidget spinners are useful has no evidence. In the journal Current Opinion in Pediatrics, scientists were unable to find a link between fidget spinners and a child’s attention span.

And North Shore Pediatric Therapy stated that “when children overuse the fidget […] it just becomes the latest and greatest toy.”

While scientists continue to have a lack of faith in fidget spinners, they do advocate for alternatives, such as the fidget cube, instead. Fidget cubes are plastic cubes with buttons and dials to fiddle with.

As Katherine Isbister, professor of Computational Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, wrote on The Conversation, “[Fidget cubes] can serve the same purpose as the spinners, but are more classroom-ready and less distracting.”

Although my fidget spinner experience was less than stellar, I think that if they are beneficial, then they should be used both in and out of school. One of my friends works with children who have disabilities, and she said that fidget spinners help them concentrate. In fact, she and her coworkers have them use their fidget spinners in order to focus, and as a result, stay safe when crossing the street.

I do believe that the benefits resulting from fidget spinning have been exaggerated though. I’d really like it if the fidget spinners being marketed as an aid to ADD and ADHD had some statistics to back up their claims. 

An article in TIME magazine notes that some fidget spinner ads market their product as “perfect for ADD, ADHD, Anxiety and Autism,” when there isn’t any scientific evidence to support that statement.

The article goes on to explain that the fidget spinners weren’t created by anyone with a scientific background, but instead, an inventor from Florida. After reading this, I realized that fidget spinners aren’t all they seem.

And while I think that there are some benefits that fidget spinners may offer, they will vary from person to person.
Our school, like many others, banned fidget spinners, as they proved to be too much of a distraction for students to focus. The fidget spinners did the exact opposite of what they’d promised to do.

Fidget spinners need to remain an aid rather than a distraction in order for them to be successfully reintroduced into the classrooms.