“Fidget spinners” are small, ball-bearing devices that the user can rotate between the fingers. The momentum of the toy provides a pleasing sensory experience. Many spinners are marketed as aides for individuals with anxiety, autism and ADHD; for example, promises greater concentration for people with those conditions, plus an opportunity to “bring out that creative genius lying deep within you.”
Unsurprisingly, these claims are probably overblown, scientists say. “Using a spinner-like gadget is more likely to serve as a distraction than a benefit for individuals with ADHD,” said Mark Rapport, a clinical psychologist at the University of Central Florida who has studied the benefits of movement on attention in people with ADHD.
Most of the controversy surrounding fidget spinners has been over schools banning them from classrooms. An elementary school principal in Evanston, Illinois, Kate Ellison, told the Chicago Tribune that the spinners have been a distraction in classrooms in her school. The list of schools banning the spinners seems to be growing and now includes schools in Massachusetts, Brooklyn, New York, Florida, Chicago, Illinois, and even across the pond in Manchester, England.