Fidget spinners a craze to be left at homeApril 28, 2017
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — The latest trend among kids and teens doesn’t have a touchscreen, speaker, or any kind of power at all. Sounds good, right? But one Jasper elementary school principal says the low-tech devices can still be a distraction in schools.
Called fidget spinners, the handheld toys have caused a whirl across the country in recent weeks. Hundreds of different makes and models are sold on Amazon.com, with prices ranging from a few bucks for cheap spinners to more than a few hundred for the premium devices.
Most of them are smaller than the palm of a hand and feature a central bearing that allows their two or three outer prongs to spin when flicked by the user. Tenth Street Elementary Principal Kent Taylor said the result is an entrancing twirl that pulls eyes away from teachers and in-class assignments.
While some manufacturers claim the devices help users focus and relieve stress and anxiety, Taylor said the spinners need to be left at home unless students receive permission from a doctor to bring them to school.
“Lately there has been an emerging concern that has created a disturbance in our educational environment,” Taylor said in a letter distributed Wednesday to school parents. “These spinners are being used at times and in ways that distract the holding child as well as those children around them.”
Taylor said the toys will be confiscated from Tenth Street students who use them without medical permission. Parents can then collect them from teachers.
Fifth Street School Principal Leah Jessee said that while her building doesn’t have a definite policy or rule on the toys, she has told students not to bring fidget spinners onto their buses or into their classrooms.
“It’s something that we’re starting to notice,” she said of the latest trend. “We’re not seeing anyone abuse them (at Fifth Street) at this point in time, however, we want to work with Tenth Street and Ireland and all be on the same page with (spinner rules and policy).”
Jessee added she doesn’t know much about the devices but is working with kids to learn how they could potentially affect learning environments. She said there might be a way the spinners could be used productively in classrooms in the future, but as of now, she isn’t sure what that looks like.
“In all truthfulness, I don’t see any value to them unless a child has a condition that the doctor feels needs an accommodation for,” Taylor said. “Most of the kids are using them as toys more than coping mechanisms.”
Taylor said he believes the devices are the next in a long line of fads that have captured kids’ attention and caused a stir in classrooms.
Preceding them are the infamous “Silly Bandz” rubber bracelets, tennis-shoe-roller-blade hybrid “Heelys” and the stone-shaped chatter magnets that make a buzzing sound when connected.
Various models of fidget cubes outfitted with buttons, tactile gears, switches and joysticks are also listed as best-sellers on Amazon.com.
Like their predecessors, Taylor doesn’t predict the spinners will be a long-term problem.
“I truthfully think this is a fad and won’t last that long,” he said. “I’ve seen lots of things come and go over the years. By the end of summer, there’s going to be something else.”
The spinning devices aren’t just for kids, either. A staff writer for Business magazine Forbes declared fidget spinners the must-have office toy for 2017 last December.
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