Finger Widgets Under the Microscope

Finger Widget Craze puts some people in a spin?

I never heard of them until a couple of weeks ago. Crazes reach Scotland several years after everyone else.

From what people say, spinners are good for focusing and concentration, Therefore these toys have some relationship to Mindfulness – perhaps. Psychologists say spinners help with ADHD and even nail-biting!

As a former teacher of elementary pupils, I wondered if the Finger Widget was my long-lost friend. Could disturbance in my classroom have been reduced if some children were allowed to satisfy their tendency for restlessness by spinning?

If I was going to find out I would have to purchase yet another piece of plastic. I could afford 99p on ebay and my spinner duly arrived complete with glow-in-the-dark stickers. (Some spinners cost £159 and upwards).

Basically, it’s a toy like a top but spun in the hand or on a surface. The user holds a pad at the center and flicks one of three rounded blades. The spinner rotates around a bearing at the center for quite a while.

Studying it, I wondered, “Is that all there is to it? If only I could have dreamed it up?”

Then I exhausted all the things I could imagine to do with the widget in 2 minutes flat.  I was underwhelme


It was time for some research.

(I use the terms Finger Widgets and Fidget Spinners interchangeably.) I first looked at several obsessions from decades past.

Apparently, adults are always suspicious of their children’s obsessions. Was I?

I remember the hula hoop as a child and thought it was fun but frustrating. I remember the manufacturers put a shoop-shoop in the tubing to extend their appeal and popularity. The news came round the huge staple connecting the tube ends could come off and grab itself into your tummy. That was it. Never again.

Jelly bracelets passed me by, but some parents were horrified: some claimed that those thin rings of plastic gel were actually dangerous symbols, with each ring color referring to a particular sexual act (and having one’s bracelet broken required the wearer to perform that act). Oh dear…

I have mentioned Tomagotchi already. When they were popular, girls kept asking to leave the classroom to perform some life-giving chore for their Tommy. It drove me mad because I didn’t want to be responsible for A DEATH.

Teachers have mixed reactions about Finger Widgets.

Some said they really helped particular students as claimed. So that if they are cheap, colorful mesmerizing, everyone is going to get one or two or three or ten.

Ordinary kids get hold of them. Then all hell breaks loose in the classroom. Look at the video below to see the basic to advanced moves. One trick sees a spinner fly through the air – and that takes concentration!. Wait a minute. What are they meant to be used for again?  If nothing else, there is a definite safety issue here.

Personally, as a teacher, it would one more distraction I would have to nag the class about.

Some schools have banned them altogether. There, now they are neither helping nor hindering anyone.

If I could find any compromise, I might allow 5 in the classroom, with everyone alphabetically getting a spinner for a day. If a pupil’s general behavior was poor, he/she would miss their turn. Everyone could use their own spinner in the playground.

What about a nice old-fashioned game like conkers? It needs concentration and you are not only allowed, but intending, to destroy something!

The jury (mine anyway) is out on these finger toys. What do you think? Please post a comment.



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