The latest craze to sweep through schools has resulted in many of them outlawing the devices entirely, as teachers report pupils spending more time at their school desks fiddling with the gadgets rather than getting on with their work.
Fidget spinners are three-pronged pieces of plastic or metal that spin around a central weighted disc. While spinning, they can be balanced on fingers, toes or even the nose, in fact, any reasonably flat surface.
They are intended for use by children suffering from ADHD, the claim being that they help these pupils to focus their attention. Some schools even have money allocated for spinners in their budgets. However, there is little evidence that they help these children and some experts have debunked such claims entirely.
The National Autistic Society, however, has said there is some anecdotal evidence from parents that fidget spinners can be beneficial. Autistic children are often easily distracted by background noise – the spinners help to filter this out.
Indeed, many adults also use objects or gadgets to help focus their attention, such as pens or coins. Fidget spinners have even been highlighted as the latest must-have executive toy.
Despite possible benefits, teachers insist that fidget spinners disrupt lessons and distract pupils from their learning. Rather than a pupil sitting attentively at their school desk, they are busy determining whether the gadget will spin better on their finger, their nose or any number of other surfaces or body parts.
Fidget spinners are meant to be used in the background, as a means of helping people concentrate by blocking out unwanted distractions. However, the majority of children use them as the primary focus of their attention, resulting in them concentrating on the spinner, neglecting their schoolwork and failing to adequately attend to classroom instructions.
Many parents have also expressed their concern that the devices are damaging their children’s education. The unease around the devices primarily centres on the way a child using a spinner in the classroom distract others, especially as some spinners can be quite noisy.
The use of spinners has, not surprisingly, resulted in many schools banning them, rather than ensuring that they are used more appropriately. In all likelihood, the craze will pass as quickly as the ones that came before it, only to be replaced by something equally irritating for teachers.