Fidget spinners: the new craze in school playgrounds – BBC News


Forget bottle-flipping and ditch your loom bands, there’s a new craze sweeping school playgrounds.

Fidget spinners were originally created as a means for children with ADHD or autism to alleviate stress.

But in the past couple of weeks, these palm-sized toys

have become the newest”must-have” for almost every school kid in the country.

On video-sharing sites like YouTube, vloggers have gathered millions of views from performing tricks with their fidget spinners.

And teachers have reported a huge increase in the amount being brought to schools by students.

There are reports that some schools have banned the toys, but primary school teacher Danielle Timmons told BBC Radio Scotland that they can have benefits.

“Fidget toys have always been something that we have had in schools,” she told The Kaye Adams Programme.

“They have only ever really been used by children with extra support needs. In actuality, specialists coming into the school recommend them for children and we’re going to purchase them in for the children that are identified.

“For a long time they’ve always existed but they’ve never been as popular as they appear to be now.

“It’s become a playground toy as well as something that is used by children to stop them from fidgeting.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Remember loom bands? These glowing plastic bracelets adorned millions of wrists in 2014

There are lots of different types of fidget spinners but the most popular is a small, three-pronged device.

When it’s placed between the thumb and a finger, the user can give it a quick flick to activate a spin.

Like all the best playground toys, they can be bought for a couple of pounds in a local corner shop – although some are retailing at a much higher price online.

But today some parents have raised concerns that they may be a distraction in the classroom.

Mother-of-three Doreen Boyle stated the toys were”infuriating”.

“My youngest, who’s 13, appeared with this fidget on Thursday, and it hasn’t left his side.

“I’ve had a house full of boys and they’ve all got them, and nobody can speak with you, nobody can have any eye contact with you because they’re all playing this thing.

“And I can not feel they’re not likely to affect performance in class.”

Teacher Ms Timmons said they can aid learning among some children.

However in her class there are strict rules which, if they are used, they must be held under the desk and from the sight of teachers and fellow students.

“If a child will fidget, they’re likely to fidget, there’s nothing you can do to stop them,” she said.

“But these fidget toys are one way of allowing them to fidget with no disruption of the tapping pencils fidgeting, or the tapping feet.

“It’s a much less disruptive way to channel their energies into something else while the teaching is going on.”

Image caption The fidget spinners were initially developed to help children with ADHD and autism
Image caption There are a range of so-called”fidget toys”, including this block device

Dr Amanda Gummer, a child psychologist, said the trend was helping to de-stigmatise a toy which was previously only used by children with extra needs.

The fidget toy occurrence is one that is sweeping the world, not just the UK, based on Richard Gottlieb, founder of US-based consultancy Global Toy Experts.

“It’s spreading globally. . .and rapidly,” he said.

They aren’t just confined to the playground however. Adults are also increasingly turning to fidget toys. So what is their appeal?

“I think its the need to fidget manually,” said Mr Gottlieb.

“That’s why some people smoke, others squeeze a rubber ball and even Captain Queeg in the movie the Caine Mutiny manipulated two steel balls in his hand whenever he has worked up.

“I think people in general are pretty stressed out right now by Brexit, the various elections, Donald Trump, Syria, North Korea….you name it.

“So, it’s a fantastic time to be selling something which allows an individual to fidget off some stress – particularly at a time when smoking is looked down on.”

He believes the playground craze has been fuelled by a creation of stressed-out children.

“Typically there are those who are influencers, and they can be anything from the coolest kid on the playground into the coolest person in the office, that by simply using a product cause others to do so too,” he said.

“In this case, however, it took off like crazy and I believe it is, again, because adults are worried but, at least in the US, kids are anxious as well.

“There is simply way too much much pressure from parents, too much school work and too long engaged in adult supervised activities.”

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