My 6-year-old son came home Wednesday and begged for a fidget spinner. If you are a parent of a school aged child, you’ve no doubt heard the same request, or, at a minimum, have been inundated by stories about the damn things in your Facebook feed.
I’m no different. And normally, my answer to any passing fad/craze (Pokemon Go anyone?) is an unequivocal no. But my son has ADHD. And I heard they could be therapeutic for children who have anxiety, attention deficit disorders and the like.
So I wondered. Should I buy one? I put the question to my friends and was drowning in responses within an hour. I’ve distilled the general opinions down to some basic themes.
If you’re on the fence about whether to buy one, maybe this will help you decide.
The case FOR fidget spinners:
- They help kids with anxiety/ADHD/autism, etc: My friends tell me that this is true. That they can be beneficial for kids who need to “harness non-productive energy.” They aren’t electronic and they (I am told) can help ease sensory issues.
- They are relatively inexpensive: Let’s face it. You can get them for as little as $5 at some stores, so if your kid is begging for one, it’s not like this purchase is going to break the bank. Even if it is just a silly/annoying toy, (an opinion shared by many of my friends) there are probably worse things for your kids to have.
- They are harmless entertainment: My Facebook feed was filled with parents who basically said, “Just get him one. What’s the big deal?” The general consensus: We broke down, my kid enjoys it, and it keeps him/her entertained.
The case AGAINST fidget spinners:
- Teachers hate them: Basically, if you have a kid who can’t be trusted to keep it in his/her backpack, or leave it at home, don’t buy one. (at least until school is out) Educator friends call them “as annoying as all get out” and an “irritating distraction.” Apparently, some have desks full of spinners they’ve confiscated.
- They could pose a choking risk: This week there was a viral story out of Texas about a 10-year-old girl who put part of the spinner in her mouth and then swallowed/choked on it. I don’t know why a 10-year-old would put part of a toy in their mouth, but kids are kids, and they sometimes do silly things. Beware the age of your child and small parts and be mindful of the hazards.
- They don’t actually help kids with ADHD, anxiety, etc: Recent articles in Time Magazine and on NPR question the “shoddy science” behind fidget spinners and whether they actually do what they claim to do. Friends report that other tools, including fidget cubes, grape balls and mesh and marble fidget bags have actually been much more effective for their children in managing anxiety and attention disorders.
Bottom line: I am of the opinion (as my friend Robert so eloquently put it): “It’s a toy. Don’t overthink it.”
If I do buy my son one, it will be after the school year lets out. And I am currently leaning more toward the fidget cube, which seems to have better reviews in terms of actually being helpful and therapeutic.