Unless you don’t use the Internet or interact with school children on a regular basis, you’ve probably encountered Fidget Spinners: the new (but actually quite old) gyrating toy phenomenon that has saturated our newsfeeds in recent weeks.
Fidget Spinners are the latest iteration of a concept that is as ancient as human boredom. What better way to pass the time than by occupying our hands with repetitive fine motor skills? From whittling to stress balls, and from prayer beads to pen spinning, people have been dillydallying through object manipulation since the dawn of specialized labor.
What is novel about Fidget Spinners, however, is the marketing of purported mental health benefits associated with their use. One online vendor proclaims that the Spinners “increase focus for those suffering from ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, and Autism.” Reputable publications have insinuated that the devices can help treat addiction.
Yet, the whirling toys also have their naysayers. Many teachers say that the Spinners distract students and wreak havoc in classrooms. Psychologists and learning experts were quick to repudiate the supposed benefits for those with Attention Deficit Disorders. Indeed, a search of peer-reviewed sources found scant evidence that Fidget Spinners boost mental health at all.
So what’s the verdict on the Spinners? Do they help alleviate stress? Are they just another marketing ploy, seeking to capitalize on the endemic anxiety of our current calendar year?
I guess you’ll have to mosey to your local toy store and find out for yourself.
Hey, whatever works, works. Just don’t accidentally swallow one!