If you have kids, then you’ve likely heard of fidget spinners. For those of you who don't know, fidget spinners are a trendy new toy on the market.
Fidget spinners are palm-sized triangular gadgets with typically rounded corners. They are often made of plastic, but can be metal as well. There is a small ball-bearing center that allows the user to hold the circle between two fingers and quickly spin the toy by hand.
These spinners may help children develop some basic understanding of physics, momentum, and the function of ball bearings.
Some manufacturers claim the toys can also help enhance concentration for children with a diagnosis of autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To date, there is no scientific evidence to confirm this.
That being said, there is research showing that movement can help some children focus, specifically children with ADHD. A study done in 2015 found that kids age 8 to 12 with a known diagnosis of ADHD performed better in working memory when they participated in a large motor activity. The study compared the kids with an ADHD diagnosis to children who sat still. This is important because working memory is used for processing new incoming information. Of note, the activity in the study involved movement of limbs and large body parts, not the hands.
Other studies have found that exercise may reduce impulsivity and improve attention for children with ADHD.
We know that all children should get at least an hour per day of physical activity. Exercise can help children:
There are cautions for parents of children who have fidget spinners. Small parts on the spinners can come loose and be accidentally swallowed. This can lead to a choking hazard or the potential need for surgery to remove the part.
It’s also possible for younger children to get their fingers stuck in small openings on the spinners.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently looking into the spinners’ potential for dangers.
Fidget spinners can also be distracting to some people.
In the near term, parents can help keep kids safe by following age labels for fidget spinners.
Report any safety problems to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.