Every generation has its share of here-today, gone-tomorrow toy trends. If you’re a kid of the ’90s, you probably remember your slap bracelet or Tamagotchi — and getting in trouble for being distracted by those toys in school. While the current fidget spinner trend might seem similar, some think that it might actually point to larger, and more meaningful, problems in the classroom.
Dr. Joel Westheimer, research chair and professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa, recently suggested that the popularity of devices like these could mean that children aren’t being engaged enough at school. “Obviously we need to look at making the curriculum more engaging so that fewer kids need fidgeting toys,” he told the CBC.
He says that with schools offering fewer and fewer physical components in the average school day, it could mean that children are channeling untapped energy reserves through toys like these. While a device like a fidget spinner does have some benefits in satisfying the common need for people to do something with their hands while they’re thinking, many schools have started to ban them from the classroom, citing distraction and disturbances as the main reason.
“We need to build into our day — as adults and kids alike — motion, engagement, and so forth,” Westheimer says. “And instead of wondering if we can occupy kids who are bored and restless by giving them fidgeting toys, I think we would do well to think, ‘well how can we occupy kids who are bored and restless by making the school day more interesting and more active.'”
Fidget spinners have actually been around for years, and were initially used as toys to help children with conditions like autism or attention deficit disorders concentrate. Though no one can really track how or why, the fidget spinner fad started last year and peaked globally with kids this spring.
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(h/t CBC; photo via Drew Angerer/Getty)