Are fidget spinners useful?

Are fidget spinners useful?

You’ve seen them, haven’t you? The weird little spaceship things children like to play with all the time.

Here are some fidget spinners

They have become a global craze. When I was at school it was elastics, jacks and swap cards but now it is fidget spinners.

The palm sized, three pronged design spins on a central bearing and has been marketed as helping children with ADHD and autism. This is a not completely untrue as some children who have these diagnoses and some who have no diagnosis may find the toy useful but marketing the toy that way is quite misleading. The toys may be of some assistance to a subset of children with ADHD or children who are on the autism spectrum but the assistance they provide is fairly limited and may well be provided in another way just as easily. Fidget spinners are certainly not a “must have” for children with ADHD or who are on the autism spectrum.

It is true that fidget toys appear to have a calming effect and can help some children to focus. A fidget toy could be a range of items. It could be as simple as two pieces of velcro that a child attaches and then removes over and over again. It could be a squashy toy the child can squeeze or it could be a fidget spinner. No single fidget toy is guaranteed to work for every child and certainly not every child can benefit from a fidget toy.

For the right child a particular fidget toy can help them to concentrate and focus on their work. It is as if they need an outlet for their energy so that the rest of their body can be calm. However, there is no recipe and it is a matter of trying what might work for that child. Fidget spinners do seem very popular but some teachers complain that they are distracting for other children.


school boy using fidget toy

boy with fidget spinner

Sandra Mortimer, a lecturer at South Australia’s, Flinders University, told the ABC that research in the area is fairly limitedbut anecdotal evidence supports the use of fidget spinners for some children.

Fidget spinners have become a global craze. Some schools have decided to ban them.

The ABC states that the mother who invented the toy is not benefiting from its’ popularity as she could not pay for the continued patent.

Catherine Hettinger from Orlando, saw some children throwing rocks one day and thought there must be a better way to distract and occupy children. At first she thought of soft rocks to throw but she eventually developed the fidget spinner.

Her patent expired in 2005 and she was not able to pay for the extension meaning that companies can manufacture and sell the product without her involvement. But she isn’t upset about the popularity. She is thrilled that her invention is so successful.

Why is there a sudden boom in popularity? Hettinger thinks people just need a way to calm their nerves and reduce anxiety.

The ABC reports that Principal Judy Cottam from Renmark West Primary School in South Australia, first saw a fidget spinner being used by a student who had made his own, from his skate board. After that students started bringing in numerous fidget spinners until the teachers started to complain and the toys were banned from class.

Dr Justin Coulson, a leading Australian parenting expect is reported by the ABC to liken the fidget spinner trend to the popularity of stress balls in the past. He says there is some evidence that children benefit from movement in the classroom but understands that a classroom of children all spinning their fidget spinners could make teaching very difficult.

It is great for children to have access to toys that might help them to calm down. These fidget spinners are not expensive ranging from around ten to fifteen dollars. We are often concerned with the amount of time our children spend in front of screens such as computers, i pads, television and even ‘phones. This is one alternative. If you don’t see it as a cure for all ills or accept the over stated claims, a fidget spinner can be a positive thing. Having said that, it seems quite reasonable to keep them out of classrooms.

Heusenroeder Catherine – ABC Riverland Does Fidget Spinner Craze Have a Place in the Classroom  10 May 2017

Calfas Jennifer – Money  Meet the Woman Who Invented Fidget Spinners, the Newest Toy Craze Sweeping America 6 May 2017