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Merchants have marketed fidget spinners as sensory toys for children on the autism spectrum or with ADHD. Within days, though, the hand-held gadget experienced a wild surge in popularity and became a must-have for every young person – and plenty of adults, too.

The basic fidget spinner consists of three prongs centered around a circle. Flick a prong, and the triangle shape becomes a blur, almost like a ceiling fan. Several companies manufacture the toys and sell them virtually everywhere – airports, gas stations, grocery stores, and, of course, toy stores.

If you’re wondering what the great appeal behind the fidget spinner is, you’re not alone. Just like you, many parents are scratching their heads in bewilderment. After all, the toys don’t make much noise; they don’t beep or flash or do anything too exciting. And yet, the fidget spinner and its cousin, the fidget cube, now dominate 49 of the top 50 rankings on Amazon. They’ve invaded classrooms and self-proclaimed “fidget experts” have posted hundreds of videos on YouTube demonstrating dozens of tricks.

And it’s not just kids – adults want them too! Fidget spinners are showing up in college classrooms, on train rides, and at the workplace. In fact, Forbes magazine has named the fidget spinner the official office toy of 2017.

While toy fads constantly come and go, there hasn’t been a fad of this magnitude since the hula hoop craze of 1958, when an estimated 25 million sold in just a few months.

Parents and educators are on the fence about this fad, though. The price tag is conservative and it keeps the kids occupied. But some claim it’s a tremendous classroom distraction.

The novelty of the fidget spinner will fade. However, will they be like the Rubik’s Cube, or forgotten in a playroom?

Here’s what you’ll want to know about the latest fad:

1.) No scientific backing for fidget spinners

Merchants market fidget spinners as stress-relievers and self-care tools for ADHD and autism. Parents buy them hoping they will help their children concentrate in class and alleviate their symptoms.

It’s important to note, though, that there is no scientific evidence backing this claim. While some might find that they do provide temporary relief from symptoms, they should never be used in place of therapy or medication.

2.) Choose fidget spinners cheaply

One of the biggest selling factors of this fad is the modest price tag – most go for just a couple of bucks. Like every popular fad, though, opportunists have been quick to cash in on the craze. The market boasts luxury spinners with flashing lights or with more ball bearings to supposedly guarantee a longer spin time. These deluxe versions come with a price tag of a few hundred dollars or more.

Kids are thrilled with the cheaper versions, and they fulfill their purpose perfectly. Don’t shell out big bucks, because this fad may be over in a few weeks. By then, your child may never look at a spinner again.

3.) Classroom chaos

A lone spinner produces a low, almost indistinct whir. Multiply that by 25, though, and you’ve got quite a racket. Now imagine trying to teach over that din.

Fidget spinners might look like the perfect classroom toy; they’re small enough to fit under the desk and make hardly any noise. But some schools have found them too distracting and have banned them. Aside from the hum, the toys often hit the floor, adding to the distraction.

Other teachers don’t mind the noise, though, and claim they support concentration while providing a legitimate sensory aid for those who need it. Make sure your child’s teacher is OK with the fidget spinner in the classroom before your child brings it to school.

4.) Smartphone substitute

While no scientific studies have backed this claim, many posit that its popularity is linked to its vibration, which mimics that of a smartphone. They theorize that the toy serves as a salve for the smartphone-addicted child, who loves the feel of a screen throbbing.

Whether this is true or not remains to be proven, but if there’s a choice, remember that the toy won’t mess with your child’s attention span or internal clock the way screen time does.

Here to stay, or gone tomorrow? It’s anyone’s guess. Meanwhile, though, make smart, informed choices about the latest toy fad.

Your Turn: Do you think fidget spinners should be allowed in classrooms? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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