powered by centersite dot net
Parenting
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Heath Tip: It's Back-to-School TimeHelping Kids Adapt to a New SchoolTake the Back Pain Out of BackpacksHealth Tip: Identify BullyingPaternal Age in the United States Is RisingAmerica's New Dads Are Older Than EverMany Parents Not Happy With Later School Start TimesVaccination 101: Make Sure Kids Are Up to DateParents Worried About Cyberbullies as School Starts UpMajority of U.S. Parents Would Support Teen Switching Gender: SurveyHaving Same-Sex Parents Won't Affect Kids' Gender Identity: StudyBack-to-School Tips … for ParentsCoping Support Assists Parents of Hospitalized ChildrenDate Nights for Overbooked Parents'Super Moms' and 'Super Dads': Work-Home Conflicts Affect Both GendersDespite Warnings, Kids Are Still Dying in Hot CarsIncreased Parental Anxiety With Increased Diabetes RiskHow to Prevent Future Couch PotatoesHealth Tip: Practice Drowning Prevention at HomeDo Older Dads Produce Brainy Boys?Most Mothers Have Been Victims of 'Mommy-Shaming,' Poll FindsTime for Some Summer Sun Safety TipsWhen Parents Focus on Smartphones, Kids' Misbehaving Can RiseCan Sharing Your Bedroom With Baby Come With Risks?Brush Up on Swim Safety for SummerDo Daughters Bring Out a Dad's 'Softer Side'?Are All Those 'Fidget Spinners' Really Helping Kids?1 in 5 U.S. Kids Killed in Crashes Not Restrained ProperlyMany Parents Underestimate Drowning RisksHealth Tip: Be a Safe Driver for Your Kids'Dr. Google' May Undermine Parents' Trust in Their PediatricianAre You Raising an 'Emotional Eater'?Health Tip: Concerned About Your Child's Weight?Could a Clinical Trial Help Your Child?Parents' Pot Use a Tricky Topic When It Comes to Their KidsHealth Tip: Help Your Child with Body Image'Eraser Challenge' Latest Harmful Social Media Trend for KidsSpring-Clean Your Medicine Cabinet to Safeguard Your KidsObese Moms May Fail to Spot Obesity in Their Own KidsAs Pot Legalization Advances, Pediatricians Warn of DangersKids Mean Less Shuteye for Mom, While Dad Slumbers On'Love Hormone' Helps Dads and Babies BondBe Your Child's ValentineHarsh Parenting Can Backfire With Bad Behavior From TeensParents of Kids With Heart Defects Face PTSD Risk: StudyChronic Bullying Can Show Up in Report CardsParents Have Mixed Views on When to Keep Sick Kids Out of SchoolHead for the Hills With Sled Safety in MindKids' Care May Suffer When Parents Clash With Medical StaffHealth Tip: Getting Your Child Vaccinated
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook ReviewsSelf-Help Groups
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Family & Relationship Issues
Internet Addiction and Media Issues
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)
Child Development Theory: Middle Childhood (8-11)
Child & Adolescent Development: Puberty
Child Development Theory: Adolescence (12-24)
Child Development & Parenting:Adolescence (12-24)

Are All Those 'Fidget Spinners' Really Helping Kids?

HealthDay News
by By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: May 25th 2017

new article illustration

THURSDAY, May 25, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Fidget spinners may be the latest must-have kids' toy, but claims that the gizmos help students pay attention aren't backed by science, experts say.

Some retailers market the devices as a way to help kids with anxiety, autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) keep themselves calm and focused in the classroom.

However, there have been no studies showing that fidget spinners benefit kids struggling to stay still, said Chicago psychiatrist Dr. Louis Kraus.

"To the best of my knowledge, there's no science behind what they're advertising," said Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry for the Rush University Medical Center.

"Without any research to show it's of benefit, I think it's wrong for them to advertise these things as helpful," he said.

The claims likely are based on small-scale studies that show kids with ADHD pay better attention if they are allowed to fidget, said Dr. Matthew Lorber, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"They actually perform better because it indirectly forces the brain to work harder to focus on the task at hand," Lorber said.

But the lead researcher behind one ADHD/fidgeting study says fidget spinners probably are too interesting and fun to be much help in classrooms.

Fidgeting can help kids pay attention, said Julie Schweitzer, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the MIND Institute of the University of California, Davis.

However, "school work is probably a lot less interesting than playing with the toy," Schweitzer said. "You're looking at competing activities here. It seems to me that it would be more distractive than helpful."

In her June 2015 study in the journal Child Neuropsychology, Schweitzer found that kids with ADHD who fidgeted and squirmed more intensely wound up performing better on a test that required their attention.

However, those kids were stirring in their seats, not fiddling with a toy, Schweitzer said.

The palm-size devices whirl much like a fan or helicopter, and they seem to be everywhere these days.

Since they're hand-held, fidget spinners could get in the way of kids completing class work, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"I worry that children will focus on their spinners instead of what they are supposed to be paying attention to," Adesman said. "Moreover, students cannot take notes or other written assignments if they are playing with them."

Fidget spinners might benefit autistic children who use "sensory stimulation behaviors" to calm their anxiety, said Thomas Frazier, chief science officer at Autism Speaks.

These children engage in behaviors such as jumping, flapping their hands or spinning around. "Fidgeting with a fidget spinner as a replacement for that behavior might be a little less stigmatizing," Frazier said. Unfortunately, the toys also could distract the kids from class work.

Fidget spinners might best be used to reward children with autism for good behavior, Frazier said.

"If they pay attention and they complete an assignment and get access to the fidget spinner, it could be really reinforcing for them," he said. "Then they'd be more likely to finish their work next time."

Many schools are banning fidget spinners from the classroom as unnecessary distractions. Lorber recently spoke at a private school in Brooklyn, N.Y., that had taken that step.

"Certainly without question, it becomes a distraction to the class, to the point where teachers and even school systems are not allowing them," Kraus said. "You're going to find that more and more schools aren't going to allow them."

Adesman thinks the fad will be short-lived. "In my view, fidget spinners are just a new craze among children and their appeal will pass with time," he said.

There are other potential methods to help kids fidget in a productive way while in school, Schweitzer said, and these should be explored.

Allowing kids to chew gum might provide enough nonspecific motor activity to keep them focused but not distracted, Schweitzer said. In addition, some schools have tried attaching Velcro strips to desks, to give kids something to stroke and touch during class that doesn't grab their attention.

"If you could find something that doesn't interfere with their learning and attention, that would be best," Schweitzer said.

More information

For more on fidgeting in class, visit the National Education Association.