fidget spinner
Big Kids, Parenting

Fidget Spinners are fun for some kids, essential for others

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
May 7th, 2017
fidget spinner

I’m willing to put my imaginary million dollars on a wager that if you have a child at school, you’ll know what a Fidget Spinner is. If you haven’t heard of it yet, don’t worry, it’s coming for you.

Schoolyard crazes are nothing new, but looking back to when I was a kid, and even in the three years my own kids have been in primary school, they’ve always been more of a slow build. This Fidget Spinner business has come like a lightning bolt out of nowhere and virtually overnight, every kid has one. On Thursday, I’d never heard of them. By Friday afternoon I was being harassed by my kids for one. “What the hell is a Fidget Spinner?” I asked. My eldest rolled her eyes like I was asking her what an iPhone was or something and said, “Ughhhhh, you know, those things you spin with your fingers!” “Yeah! My son chimed in. Michael has one. Can we get one?”

Naively, I thought I could just head on down to my local $2 shop and grab a couple. Yeah, nah. As soon as we walked in, there was a sign on the counter that said, “Sold out of Fidget Spinners. More arriving next week.” Annoying. This Fidget Spinner quest turned out to be a little more than irritating because it was in the FOURTH shop that we struck gold. And when I saw what they’d been busting my chops over, I was pretty underwhelmed. But they were SO happy and have been spinning that little contraption on their fingers ever since.

So what actually is this little spinning thing that has taken the entire world by storm?

Behold...the Fidget Spinner.

Behold…the Fidget Spinner.

Fidget Spinners are meant to be a low-key ‘fidgeting’ device to keep hands busy while spinning the fan-like contraption made up by a centred, stable disc joined to three spinning paddles. They were created as a tool to help kids with sensory processing difficulties including ADHD and ASD manage their attention. Elaine Taylor-Klaus, a co-founder of a coaching service for kids with attention disorders and their parents called ImpactADHD described it like this: “For some people (with ADHD), there’s a need for constant stimulation. What a fidget allows some people – not all people – with ADHD to do is to focus their attention on what they want to focus on, because there’s sort of a background motion that’s occupying that need.”

My sister is a psychologist and when I spoke to her about Fidget Spinners, she brought up an interesting point. For years, kids with sensory processing disorders have been using Fidget Spinners, so for them and their families they’re nothing new. Now that they’ve hit epic mainstream madness, the little devices have been banned from being used in many classrooms because kids are focusing more on the spinners themselves than their work. But what does this mean for the kids who genuinely need them to assist with concentration as opposed to just learning spins and tricks?

This dilemma is something I hadn’t given any thought to, mainly because I wasn’t really aware of it. I was just grateful that my kids were interested in something that a) didn’t make any noise and b) didn’t involve a screen. I definitely don’t want my kids playing with them in the classroom, but think that it’s really important that the kids who find relief in them should be allowed to continue using them.  I’m not sure what the ultimate solution is, but I do know that Fidget Spinners will probably remain at the top of the kid-craze mountain for a little while yet – and I hope it’s not to the detriment of the kids who really need them.

Were you aware of Fidget Spinners before they became a schoolyard craze?