What are fidget spinners? They’re small devices, around three inches across, that you hold in your hand and, well, spin. They basically just sort of whizz around on their bearings (and you can make them spin pretty fast) but they serve no real purpose -- they’re just for playing with. They’re quite cheap, routinely costing under $10, and are becoming astonishingly popular, though perhaps inevitably this has triggered a backlash against the devices.
Fidget spinners have been around for years. They’ve long been marketed towards parents with children who have autism spectrum or attention deficit disorders. The idea behind this is pretty simple: for kids who have trouble focusing, a little gadget to keep their hands busy would allow them to focus on more important matters (such as classroom lessons).
Now addressing that issue: there is, unfortunately, no evidence at all that fidget spinners help children with exceptionalities. Indeed experts warn it could actually make it harder for kids to concentrate, making their struggles worse.
At any rate, in the last couple of years the little doohickeys have gained mass appeal among the younger set. Predictably, some people have taken things to extreme lengths, with online videos showing the spinners accelerated to absurd speeds with such devices as compressed-air drills and even chainsaws.
In less dangerous territory, many teachers are getting fed up with fidget spinners. They can be very distracting in a classroom, and while generally quiet they do make noise as they whirl about. Many classrooms now have signs reading “YOU MUST BE LOOKING AT THE TEACHER” and “YOU MUST BE DISCREET”. These refer to fidget spinners, and indicate a teacher allowing them to be in class but only if used in a way that does not cause distraction. Other teachers, and even whole schools, are banning them altogether.
It’s hard to predict the future of fidget spinners. They may be here to stay or they may just be a brief little historical oddity. One thing is certain, however: they have entertained, and irritated, a great many people.