Fidget Spinners: What’s the hype?

Fidget spinners are the newest toy-addiction plaguing among children and adults alike. It is a ball bearing gadget that consists of three propellers which rotate in cool patterns that are oddly soothing.

These low-tech gadgets are not just ordinary toys that you just spin around and do cool tricks with. They’re said to help those having conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These individuals often use fidgeting as a coping mechanism. It is believed that the hypotonic effect and the pleasing sensation created by fidget spinners is said to help relieve stress.

People have been fidgeting forever. If you’ve ever clicked a pen or swayed back and forth while you have fidgeted. In the past, rubber bands, stress balls, clicking pens and paper clips have all done what the fidget spinner does. So, fidget spinners were created as another tool for people to use when they fidget. Fidget spinners are not a new technology. In fact, they have been used by kids with behavioral disorders such as autism or ADHD as a concentration tool since a couple of years ago. However, last spring, they rapidly grew in popularity. With the evolving trend of fidget spinners, stores are finding it hard to keep them in stock and their prices range from $2 basic spinners to $1,500 diamond-embedded designer spinners. The popularity of fidget spinners has created an art of tossing, spinning and twirling them which has flooded YouTube with thousands over thousands of tutorials. YouTube is full of thousands over thousands of videos of people spinning fidget spinners on their shoes, thumbs and even juggling whirling fidget spinners.


Toys or Tools?

There’s very fine line between whether the fidget spinner acts as toy or a tool. Therefore, this portable toy has created much controversy among scientists, medical professionals, teachers and parents. Many scientists claim that the benefits and effects of fidget spinners are largely overestimated by their manufacturers and sellers. For instance, Amazon claims that fidget spinners will help to “unleash the creative genius within you”. Manufacturers go on to mention that these toys will improve concentration by reducing anxiety. But, the lack of peer reviewed studies on the benefits of fidget spinners makes these assertions of manufacturers and producers baseless. The claimed potential benefits are simply based on theories and not any concrete evidence.  A professor at John Hopkins University claims that fidget spinners were not deigned to be used as a medical aid and the supposed medical benefits of the gadget presented by manufacturers are nothing but mere marketing gimmicks.


Fidget spinners banned in schools

Since fidget spinners are visually pleasing and creates an enthralling wheezing sounds, they are very off-putting. Julie Schweitzer, a psychologist at the University of California suggests that fidget spinners are most likely to act as a distraction rather than a concentration tool for kids with ADHD because they tend to get distracted very easily. Therefore, these addictive stress busters have been banned in many schools, universities and workplaces around the world. Most authorities have identified fidget spinners as a distraction rather than something that aids concentration.

Another reason for this ban on fidget spinners is the fact that it has caused many accidents. Along with the growing trend of fidget spinners, accidents related to its use also started rising. There were many incidents of choking; eye damage, tooth breakings and some battery-operated spinners have been reported to explode in the hands of users. A seven-year-old boy in Sydney has been reported to have swallowed one of the propellers after it got detached from the spinning device. Another 11-year old boy in the United States has suffered severe eye injuries when he was attempting a trick by throwing the fidget spinner in the air. Besides, there are accidents reported about damage caused by fidget spinners with blades used as weapons. Due to incidents like this many authorities have named fidget spinners as a “potentially dangerous toy”.

Nonetheless, fidgeting is not necessarily a bad thing. Fidgety bodily movements humanize a person. Imagine giving a lecture or talking on a date without any bodily movements and staying extremely still. This is unnatural and may even scare off the people that you’re communicating to. But, have we created a very unnecessary trend that alienates us?

Written by, Ama Sedara

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