Pogs, Beanie Babies, Pokémon cards. Every so often there’s a hot new toy that explodes onto the scene that creates such a craze, that it carves itself a spot into pop culture history.
The latest plaything to do so are fidget spinners — palm-sized three-pronged spinners that claim to help children with special needs focus, as well as relieve stress and tension.
And much like its craze-causing predecessors, it’s creating such a distraction that schools are being forced to intervene and professionals to speak out.
“I’d say those particular toys that kids are playing with right now don’t actually have the attributes that we would normally associate with a fidget tool or fidget toy that might be helpful for kids with a range of different difficulties,” Dr. Jennifer Crosbie, child psychologist, told Global News. “These toys are closer to a toy. They really are something that the kids are paying attention to. They’re trying to spin them on their desk, maybe spin them on the floor… That’s not what you want for a tool that’s actually supposed to be helping them within the classroom.”
While these spinners are relatively new in Canada, countries around the world have already begun taking action and banning them in classrooms.
According to SpinnerList, a fidget spinner database, 32 per cent of the top 200 American high schools (the 100 largest private and 100 largest public schools, according to the Department of Education) have already banned the gadgets, or plan to.
Schools in the U.K. are banning them as well for being too distracting, The Independent reports.
In Canada, however, many schools have yet to take an official position on fidget spinners.
However, experts say there’s no evidence to support the toy’s claims.
“I know there’s lots of similar toys, just like there’s lots of other games and products marketed toward individuals who have ADHD, and there’s basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board,” Scott Kollins, a clinical psychologist and professor at Duke University, said to NPR. “If their description says specifically that this can help for ADHD, they’re basically making false claims because these have not been evaluated in proper research.”
But seeing as the gadget is mostly being used as a toy, stores in Canada, the U.S. and U.K. can barely keep them on the shelves.
Fidget spinners can retail anywhere from $3 upwards, depending on its features.