What Role Do Fidget Spinners Play in the Classroom?
Vol. 14 No. 6
“Fidget spinners descended upon my classroom. Last week, two students had them. This week, everyone had one!”
Sound familiar? One of the hot toys this past spring was the fidget spinner, a circular device with a bearing in the middle that allows users to spin it around their fingers. The toy was originally developed to help children focus and some claim it can help relieve stress, anxiety, ADD, and ADHD.
But fidget spinners recently soared in popularity, becoming a must-have for kids (and some adults). Students spin them in class, use them to perform tricks, and trade them during recess. Many educators find that fidget spinners can be a distraction in the classroom, rather than a focus enhancer.
So educators and administrators now face the question: How do we approach the topic of fidget spinners in our schools?
The answers are mixed—the phenomenon is new and there isn’t a clear-cut right or wrong.
Some feel that fidget spinners do increase one’s ability to focus. A few Forbes staff members used the toys and were happy with the results. “These fidget toys could very well improve your day-to-day by giving you an innocuous outlet for your nervous or bored energy, and our testers unanimously found this to be true.”
When specifically examining the impact of fidget spinners on children with ADHD, a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that the more kids with ADHD fidget, the better their memory.
But others, such as clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D., author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, don’t believe fidget spinners offer true benefits for children with attention-deficit disorders. According to Dr. Mayer, “Even if they have some therapeutic benefit, a diversion device like this takes the person away from developing compensation techniques that are necessary for the long-term control of their condition and better functioning.”
There have also been safety concerns with fidget spinners. A 10-year-old girl from Texas accidentally swallowed one of the bearings from her fidget spinner and it lodged in her esophagus. She had surgery to endoscopically locate and remove the object.
And from a classroom management standpoint, educators are having a hard time keeping order when a large percentage of their students are more focused on fidget spinners than the subject matter. Many say they’re a distraction to both the student using the toy and to those around them.
When it comes to a decision, every school is unique. One option is to ban the use of fidget spinners in their entirety or dictate when students can use them (for instance, at recess but not in the classroom). Your school can also work with students on an individual basis to identify those who use fidget spinners for sensory issues, and allow them to continue use if recommended.
Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 9 No. 5 From Neuroscience: Why Gaming Engages Students
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 12 No. 2 Dealing With Emotional Outbursts in the Classroom