Fidget Spinners: Tool or Toy?

Emilio Alvarez If you don’t have a fidget spinner, then you most likely know someone who does. You are also probably aware of the sudden skyrocket of popularity in this toy. Originally marketed as a fidget gadget for people with ADD, fidget spinners are the new cool toy which recently has been used among all kids across the world. As it is now being sold as a toy, controversy surrounds whether or not it actually helps stimulate attention. Inevitably, these gadgets have made their way into the classroom, and have been banned in schools across the nation. So, what is it about this toy that appeals to kids? How do these fidget spinners help or harm the user’s ability to concentrate, and what’s Latin doing with regards to these gadgets? The fidget spinner has a bearing in the middle with two or three weighted prongs, and is made with plastic, aluminum, copper and more. Long before they became popular, fidget spinners were used by guidance counselors, therapists and teachers as a stress reliever. The fidget spinner became especially popular this year, when kids in schools started to use them as toys. The gadget, originally advertised as a focus-stimulator, are now found in the hot-toy store sections across the world. Elaine Taylor-Klaus, the co-founder of ImpactADHD, says the root of the popularity starts when “kids don’t know how to use a fidget and it becomes the primary focus instead of the background focus.” The small size of the gadget and ability to use it discreetly makes it optimal for entertainment in class. Some people who have ADD/ADHD need fidgeting to help them focus, which is the purpose of fidget spinners. Fidgeting allows some people to “focus on what they want to focus on, because there’s sort of a background motion that’s occupying that need,” according to Taylor-Klaus. Jaylon Rozier, a high school student in Greensboro, NC benefits from the fidget spinner and uses it subtly in school to prevent distraction. Jaylon is epileptic, and the “medicine I take to control it ratchets up my need to move around.” Fidgeting is human nature, and using fidget tools is proven to increase focus and performance. UC Davis professor Julie Schweitzer conducted a study that tested the proficiency on a test taken by kids with ADHD. The students took one test while not being allowed to move, and another being allowed to move. The students collectively had a much higher score when allowed to move than when not allowed. Some people with ADHD focus better when there is a stimulating movement involved. The fidget spinner, however may not be the optimal gadget to be used in an academic setting, as it can be distracting. The motion of spinning the gadget usually requires two hands, and the spinning blades make a sound which can take the focus off the teacher and to the student using the spinner. It is also tempting to play around with the toy, doing tricks such as balancing it on a finger. Actions like these would not be beneficial to a class as a whole–it can be very distracting, especially to students. Currently, Latin’s Upper School is not restricting the use of fidget spinners, but the middle school has buckled down on a policy to take any fidget spinner a student is caught using. Middle school students, because they are younger, are less mature with using gadgets in a learning environment. High schoolers are more mature and hence more capable of making the right decision and, when making the wrong one, knowing to deal with the consequences. Students can benefit from the use of a fidget spinner, but there are also very realistic harms of using the gadget in a classroom setting. In the end, it’s down to the student’s intention to be responsible and use these focus tools for the right purposes.]]>