Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the latest craze amongst children under the age of 12 – fidget spinners!
These three-inch plastic gadgets, fit into the palm of your hand and can be spun around with your fingertip.
Kids across Ireland have been going crazy for them. In fact, they regularly sell out in shops and have, in some cases, been banned from classrooms because they serve as a distraction.
Originally developed as stress relievers, they’re said to provide a pleasing sensory experience for the user and have spawned 1,000’s of YouTube videos offering ways of playing with them.
Fidget Spinners appear to be harmless- just another childhood craze like elastic bands, marbles or yo-yos back in the day.
Child psychologist Joanne Fortune of solamh.com points out that there’s nothing new about the concept.
“Adults have been using worry stones for hundreds of years and in recent times we have stress balls or other such stress-relieving devices,” she says. “It’s the same idea. Actually, we all fidget to some extent.
“I look at them as just another fad for children like any other that’s come before them, “ she says. “They all tend to follow a pattern. I think fidget spinners will run their course.”
But their popularity does beg the question, do modern children need to relieve stress and are fidget spinners good for them or harmful?
Joanne says fidget spinners used in moderation are likely to do no harm. And for children with autistism, ADHD, or abnormal levels of anxiety, fidget spinners can actually be beneficial.
“Fidget spinners can help them to stay engaged,” explains Joanne. “Distraction can help to reset or refocus the brain.
“But I don’t think parents should automatically think they are good for their child,” she adds.
She says we’ve become overly adverse to boredom - “We believe our children need to be doing something at all times. As a result, we tend to over-occupy them and that’s a mistake.”