MHM- The Complete Guide to Fidget Spinners

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The Complete Guide to FIDGET SPINNERS

Do you guys remember Silly Bandz? In like, 2008 or 2009, they were the IT accessory. Kids across the nation and perhaps the world, adorned their arms with these cheap-ass pieces of rubber that, when not stretched out, were shaped like animals and other items. They came in packs of certain types of animals like safari, jungle, etc. Of course, their fame dissipated as quickly as it began. But animal bracelets– this cheap, simple idea– had made an insane impact on the world for that short time. Now, there’s a new cheap and simple idea sweeping the nation. If you have kids, work in a school, or have been in the mere presence of a child in the past few months, you probably know what it is: fidget spinners.

I recently read an article by the Chicago Tribune that tried to cause an incredible stir over the things with absolutely no facts backing it up. I couldn’t believe it had come from what I thought was a reputable news source. So, I decided to take on the topic myself, from a less sensationalist viewpoint.

Where the heck did fidget spinners come from? How did they get so popular? What is all the controversy surrounding them? Are they bad, good, or *dramatic music* absolutely fucking neutral?

Where the heck do fidget spinners come from?

Fidget spinners were invented to help people who have trouble focusing. They’re supposedly great for children with ADHD because they’re a channel for their energy. That channel should help them give their full attention to the important things, like classwork. It doesn’t end there though! They’re also supposed to help children with autism, because children with autism are often overwhelmed by their surroundings, and the spinners help them focus on one thing- spinning. They also help people with anxiety because they provide people with a task for their hands. How many times have you been alone in a crowded room, wishing you just had something to do with your hands??

How did they get so popular?

There are obviously many reasons why the spinners have become so popular. If you account for the prevalence of all three of those afflictions, you’re talking about a good chunk of the population! People also seem to like that they are a distraction from smartphones. Kids are sometimes reaching for the simple, barely mechanical spinners instead of their unbelievably complex smartphones.

However–

What is all the controversy surrounding them?

–Fidget spinners have not been able to steer clear of controversy. Many of the concerns are legitimate, but don’t worry! Many of them are nothing to worry about.  I’m here today to work through the issues with you, so you can decide for yourself if fidget spinners are right for you or your child. Of course, this piece is littered with my own opinion, but I’d also like to hear yours! Leave your thoughts in my comment box below.

1.

The first controversy that comes up is whether or not fidget spinners actually do the job they were meant to do. Some sources say that they don’t actually provide a statistically significant amount of help to those with autism, anxiety, or ADHD. On this subject, I must say my personal belief is that they’re worth a shot. If it works, you found yourself a cheap, easy way to stay calm in stressful situations. Of course, this will never be able to replace therapy or medication. If it doesn’t work for you at all, you’ve only wasted about $5. Unless you’re insane, in which case the monetary loss can truthfully be up to $100.

2.

The second issue I want to mention comes up with people who firmly believe the spinners ARE helpful. They worry that the resources are being used up by the general population, who are just using them for fun. I absolutely understand this, or at least I would have, two or three months ago. Now that fidget spinners are at the peak of their popularity, no store would be caught dead being sold out. To prove this point, you can check out my affiliate link for Amazon.com to see for yourself! There are tons available. And just so you know– I would never endorse a product I had not tried for myself. To get in the spirit, I’m actually playing with my sister’s fidget spinner as we speak.

3.

The next reason people worry about fidget spinners is because they cause disruptions in the classroom. As some of you may know, I’m a substitute teacher, so I’ve seen a bit of this firsthand. I won’t pretend I know as well as a teacher who is in the same school with the same kids every day, but I’ve seen enough to form an opinion! My belief is that the worst disruptions seem to have taken place now that the new rules are in place– the bannings, the automatic detentions, the confiscations. Come on, what happens when you tell a child they can’t have something?

They want it MORE.

Plus, the disciplining takes more time out of the school day.

One day, I was doing a lesson on bar graphs with second graders, trying to help them with a problem that stumped them all. When a kid raised her hand, I asked her to hold her thought, because I wanted to get the explanation out. Instead of putting her hand down, she got up out of her seat to tell me that so-and-so had his fidget spinner out.

The kid spinning was staring right at me during the lesson, and I couldn’t hear him. He was just mindlessly spinning with his hands in his desk. To me, that’s no big deal, and no one else seemed bothered by it as far as I could tell. But, I had to stop the whole lesson to tell him to put it away, and to tell the girl that she hadn’t been a helpful friend just now.

This is not to say that school should be a free-for-all, complete with an ever-present whir of two hundred spinners. But, if a kid was fidgeting with his own hands in class, or a pencil, or even a water bottle, no one would say a word if he was also paying attention and being quiet. Why is it different if it’s a fidget spinner?

So you’re suggesting we do NOTHING about these nefarious pieces of spinny plastic???

Literally YES. Bros, chillax. When’s the last time you saw a kid wearing Silly Bands? Playing with a Rubik’s Cube? Taking care of a Tamagotchi Pet? Cuddling a Webkinz? These things pass. And the more we make a political statement out of them like that god-awful Chicago Tribune post did, and the more we criminalize the kids who like playing with them, the more we’re actually just playing into the hype. Not to mention making the kids feel bad for what they like. My suggestion is that we let the kids play with their toys (when acceptable!) and find some other news to write about.

 


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30 Comments

  1. Hey Nicole, I never knew that the fidget spinners were created with good intentions, for people suffering from autism, anxiety, or ADHD. I recently had a short chat with a school teacher and she mentioned that the best place to keep the spinners would be in the rubbish bin. I never understood why she was so against the idea of a spinner, but now I know. Really insightful post!

    http://thiscache.blogspot.com

    • I’m so glad I was able to send out some new information! I understand teachers being frustrated with them, I really do. I just think that making suuuuch a big deal out of them only makes the craze bigger. On the other hand, in the interest of complete transparency, I saw a kid with a Rubik’s cube today, so I guess the trends don’t completely disappear 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  2. I agree with you at the end there. I teach 7th grade, and we didn’t ban them altogether at my school. It’s mostly up to teacher discretion. If I think you’re just playing with it (for example, watching it spin, stacking them on top of each other, throwing it to your friend), then I either tell you to put it away (first chance) or I take it (second chance). I do think it helps some kids, particularly during direct instruction to focus on the lesson, but there are also the kids who are into it ’cause it’s the “thing” right now. Alas, this too shall pass, just like Silly Bandz. 🙂

    • Of course! If a child is sitting in class blatantly playing with a fidget spinner and not paying any attention, that’s a vastly different story than a kid focusing on the teacher, absently spinning in his desk. I think that’s the difference between the mainstream users and the ones who use it because it helps them with something. For some it’s a distraction, and for some it’s helpful. Thanks for your insightful comment!

  3. I honestly so agreed on this. I’ve been seeing tons of these spinners everywhere! Even those I know are using them (adults and children alike) and I do not simply see what’s with the hype. My concern is the same as yours, we’re afraid it’ll become a disruption to the children’s learning environment. Thank you for sharing this post!

    xo Tina
    IG: @tinasweetheart
    http://www.tinasweetheart.com

    • Thanks for your comment, Tina! I don’t see the hype either, but since I’ve written this post, they seem to have slowed down a little. To be fair, it’s summer vacation so I haven’t been in the schools every day, but the news stories have stopped and so have the comments on this post, so it seems like people are less fired up about them already.

  4. I agree, its a fad like the silly bands that will go “out of style” soon enough! Though I don’t have ADHD, I fidget myself (with a ring, bracelet, or hair tie even) and I’m positive those fidget spinners would just be distracting for me since it moves lol!

  5. Very interesting post! I never heard of this before. I’m actually a speech therapist with experience in the Autism community, but currently work with the geriatric population. So glad I came across this. Amazing how this device helps people on the spectrum or with anxiety and other disorders. Thanks for sharing!

    • Oh that’s so interesting! I’m so glad you got something out of my article, though I’m sure spinners aren’t so popular among the geriatric population 🙂

  6. I have heard a lot about fidget spinners and thought it was just another silly toy.I had no idea it’s actual purpose is to help those with autism, anxiety, or ADHD. Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Hmmm this is interesting! I haven’t heard of these before, but I am definitely the kind of person who can’t help but fidget with anything in my hands. 😉

    I’m glad you could offer a perspective, too, as someone who is at the front of the classroom! Totally true – being told you can’t have something, just makes you want it more!

  8. Thank you for not “criminalizing” fidget spinners. I have family members who find them incredibly useful for focusing during class! I personally fidget with my hair band on my wrist or tap my fingers on my desk. Fidget spinners aren’t nearly as loud as my finger clacking!

    • Of course! I think they’re as harmless as any other toy fad. And I agree, they’re better than some other fidgeting habits! 🙂

    • Agreed! It’s no different from the other toys, it just happened to come in an age where we sensationalize everything for reactions

  9. Thanks for explaining this! As someone who isn’t around kids often, this is a topic that I’ve been hearing about left and right, but I’ve never encountered anyone who actually uses them – we just all kind of roll our eyes at them because they seem like another overhyped fad. As someone with a pretty extensive psychology background, it bothers me when news outlets talk about them as an amazing solution to various mental difficulties without going into the science whatsoever. Is it true? Is it not? You’d never get the answer if you’re just paying attention to mainstream coverage – so thanks for digging in a bit more!

    • I’m so glad you found this helpful! Yes, I understand why people who put so much work into behavioral therapy, etc. might be very frustrated by the idea that this toy can fix their problems. And you’re right, mainstream media won’t tell you any facts. They’ll just throw around a lot of scary words and not really tell you much at all lol. Thanks for stopping by!

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