Fidget toys aren’t just hype

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By Katherine Isbister

The fidget spinner craze has been sweeping elementary and middle schools. As of May 17 every one of the top 10 best-selling toys on Amazon was a form of the hand-held toy people can spin and do tricks with. Kids and parents are even making them for themselves using 3D printers and other more homespun crafting techniques.

But some teachers are banning them from classrooms. And experts challenge the idea that spinners are good for conditions like ADHD and anxiety. Meanwhile, the Kickstarter online fundraising campaign for the Fidget Cube – another popular fidget toy in 2017 – raised an astounding US$6.4 million, and can be seen on the desks of hipsters and techies across the globe.

My research group has taken a deep look at how people use fidget items over the last several years. What we found tells us that these items are not a fad that will soon disappear. Despite sometimes being an annoying distraction for others, fidget items can have some practical uses for adults; our inquiry into their usefulness for children is underway.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I have a son with ASD he has some fidget toys, but as a teacher also I can tell you getting a kid to stop spinning the damn thing for a half a second to concentrate on a task is near to impossible. I am all for trying to relieve the anxiety of these kids (my son used to chew through his shirts stiming until we got him some chew toys).

    And I’d have no problem with the kids absent mindedly fiddling with them during a task but the spinning ones are too heavy they spin like mad, they’re noisy and some other kid is just going to put their finger into the spinning madness and send it flying. I predict in a week or so most school will have banned them due to the enormous distraction they cause to the whole class. There are better ones from a classroom teachers point of view such as these little cubes with switches and push buttons, not nearly as distracting and and the kids can absent mindedly click away while not distracting the whole class. I can tell you having run the tolerance experiment for a couple of lessons the spinning ones will not last in my class for another lesson.

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