Summer has come to an end and school is back in session. The stores are lined with the usual bins of glue sticks and markers, but you may notice another item on the school supply shelves this year; fidget spinners.
Over the past six months, fidget spinners have become widely popular, flying off of the shelves of toy stores for months. The spinners are a fairly simple invention, just a few weighted prongs that spin on the fingers of youth of all ages. The popular toys are even being sold by some manufacturers as beneficial for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety.
Despite the alleged benefits of these toys, there has been no definitive research that proves the impact of the spinners. The closest research done on the matter comes from professor Julie Schweitzer, director of attention, impulsivity and regulation laboratory at the University of California, Davis. Schweitzer’s study examined how fidgeting affects the focus of children with ADHD. While her study did reveal that children with ADHD scored higher on an attention test while fidgeting, the study focused on fidgeting through physical movement and activity- something that users of the fidget spinners aren’t necessarily doing.
There is still research to be done, but in the meantime some parents are finding relief through the fidget toys. The spinners and other sensory toys are often used to soothe children who have sensory-processing issues. There are also various methods that are used to bring children’s attention to focus, and fidgeting is one of them. While these $5 toys may be beneficial, they also have the power to be distracting. Remember to check with your child’s teacher before sending a fidget spinner to school this year.
— Hannah Anderson is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. 4-H Youth Development is her specialty. The Harvey County Extension Office can be contacted at 284-6930