You may or may not have heard of the latest craze amongst kids: the fidget spinner.
This craze hit my kid’s school this week in a big way and you can now see practically every child walking around with this spinning thing in their hand.
So what are these spinney things and what is their purpose?
Well, fidget spinners are three-pronged devices that spin on a central bearing when rotated on fingers or thumbs. They were originally marketed at helping relieve stress and for helping with concentration especially for children and adults with ADHD.
Some experts have said that they can help focus and calm children and adults. So are they a help or hindrance during learning? Do they improve learning or are they just distracting?
Here are a few of my thoughts as an ex-teacher, learning specialist and mother:
- Fun! They are great fun and as a family we have had some great discussions about the mechanics of the movement, friction and forces.
- Visual distraction. My eldest son used his whilst revising his science for a test this week. Many times he became more interested in how he could balance it on his finger rather than concentrating on this revision. My conclusion is that they are visually distracting and draw attention away from the task in hand.
- Movement is fantastic for concentration. Research has shown that gross movement increases activity in the pre-frontal and frontal cortexes of the brain. This is the area responsible for attention. Fidget spinners are not used for gross movement, only in the hand, so we can’t say until research is done whether they aid concentration or not.
My conclusion is that they are fun toy but I think other things are far better and less distracting to fidget with especially for kids or in a classroom. Making movement by sitting on a ball or squeezing a stress ball is far less distracting and benefits concentration. Getting outside for some movement and taking breaks also helps.
So buy a fun toy but don’t think this will solve attention issues. Also, haven’t we all been fidgeting for years – I remember twirling a pen around in my hand or stretching an elastic band. So there is nothing new under the sun.
What are your thoughts? Have your kids got fidget spinners?