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Can Fidget Spinners Really Stop Fidgeting?

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Can Fidget Spinners Really Stop Fidgeting?

Jul 17, 2017

Fidget spinners are a cheap and trendy new kids’ toy that claims to help with ADHD, anxiety, and other mental health issues. But pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner says there's no hard evidence these toys help kids to focus. Instead, Dr. Gellner says fidget spinners can actually be a distraction. Find out why, and get some ideas for effective alternatives if your child has behavioral challenges.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gellner: Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know what a fidget spinner is. You may have one or have bought your child one. Places that sell these toys are marketing them as tools to help with ADHD, anxiety, and PTSD. But is that true? I'll give you the true spin on these spinners today, on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering the Healthy Kids Zone with Dr. Cindy Gellner, on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Yes, I caved and bought my boys fidget spinners, and they promptly were lost, broken, replaced, and fought over. But do they really help with fidgeting?

Reviews of the toys online say that they're effective in helping with anxiety, ADHD, autism, PTSD, and other mental health issues. And for someone looking for answers on how to get their child to calm the wiggles down, fidget spinners can seem like a great idea and for as low as $5.

Well, there's no hard evidence to suggest fidget spinners can help with focus. There haven't been any scientific studies on these toys, specifically. A lot of parents want something, anything that can help their child stop fidgeting, even if their child hasn't been diagnosed with ADHD. Kids all try to get their parents to buy them because their friends have them, so there's peer pressure as well. It's the cool thing to have right now.

However, these spinners may actually cause problems. Kids may find themselves focusing more on the toy than the lesson at hand if they're taken to school. Actually, a lot of schools have already banned kids from bringing fidget spinners to class, which is a good thing if you've ever heard the whirring noise they make.

For kids who do have ADHD or other behavior concerns, there may be additional problems. These kids seem to be obsessed with spinners inside and outside of school. Their world revolves around the toy, and if it gets lost or broken, you're going to have an outburst on your hands. Kids with ADHD tend to have impulse control issues, and losing a fidget spinner can lead to a meltdown.

Instead of looking for a quick fix when it comes to focus problems, parents and teachers should work together to develop a plan for any student who has behavior concerns. This plan should be well-structured, with tasks broken into manageable pieces, limited distractions, and clear expectations for behavior.

Parents may also want to consider seeking help from their pediatrician. Most kids who have true ADHD are being managed by medications, which can really help a child reach their full potential in school by helping balance their brain chemistry.

Don't expect a fidget spinner to be a miracle cure for your child's ADHD. Also, parents should know that these toys break easily and can become choking hazards for younger siblings if the bearings fall out. One should be prepared to be annoyed for the whirring sound as well. Even the silent ones aren't silent.

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