Fidget spinners may not address underlying issues

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Fidget spinners have become wildly popular later, but they have also caused some controversy as a distractions, especially in schools. Farrah Hughes, Ph.D., joined News13 NOW at 9 a.m. on Thursday to talk about some of the uses and drawbacks of fidget spinners. She is the Director of McLeod Health’s Employee Assistance Program.

Hughes explained Fidget spinners are like a lot of other toys that many people are already familiar with –  the Slinky, Rubix Cube, magnetic wheel spinner, etc. They can be entrancing, provide sensory stimulation, and you can do cool tricks with them. They’re also relatively inexpensive.

The following are some points Dr. Hughes wrote for the discussion. Watch the video for even more explanation.

Fidget spinners might be therapeutically useful for some children by providing “background stimulation” that allows them to focus on other things (e.g., children with anxious energy could benefit from having something to keep their hands busy). They are fun; they teach children about physics; they can be useful in occupational therapy and other treatments to engage children; they can provide a vehicle for children to interact with one another socially.

However, for many children they might serve as another distraction and actually impede children’s ability to focus; they can be distracting for others.

Potential benefits must be weighed against potential negative effects. In the classroom, one child might benefit, but other children will get distracted. To date, no systematic research has been conducted evaluating the potential benefits of fidget spinners. Therefore, there is no basis for therapeutic claims.

No studies have been conducted to evaluate the impact of fidget spinners on ADHD or other difficulties. That doesn’t mean they’re not useful, it just means that we have to think about children’s individual needs, on a case-by-case basis.

Parents should seek professional advice if they are concerned about their child’s behavior or symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, anxiety, or autism. Mental health professionals or medical providers can provide guidance.