Infinite Fidgets The fidget spinner craze has swept through elementary and high schools. As of May 17, each of the top 10 selling toys on Amazon was some form of wearable toy that people could spin and do tricks. Kids and parents make them themselves using 3D printers and other more homemade craft techniques. The conversation
But some teachers ban them from classrooms. And experts dispute that spinners are suitable for conditions like ADHD and anxiety.
My research group has taken an in-depth look at how people use worry articles over the past few years. We found that these items are not a fad that will soon die out. Although sometimes an annoying distraction for others, fidgeting objects can have practical uses for adults; our research into its usefulness for children continues.
The turmoil didn’t start with the roulette craze. If you’ve ever clicked a pen repeatedly, you’ve used a fidget. As part of our work, we asked people what objects they like to play with and how and when they use them. (We are compiling your responses online and welcome additional contributions.)
People often report that playing with an object in their hand helps them stay focused when completing a long task or keeping still and attentive during a long meeting. People have told us many examples: off-the-shelf items like paper clips, thumb drives, headphones, and tape. But people also buy speciality items like a fidget spinner or fidget cube.
Another common thread involves people using a restless object, such as a favourite smooth stone, to calm themselves down, helping them reach a more relaxed, contemplative, and mindful state.
Fine-Tuning For Focus
Psychological research on sensation seeking tells us that people often seek to adjust their experiences and environments to provide the right stimulation level Different people work well in different circumstances. Some people like total silence to help them focus, while others prefer to work in a busy, loud environment.
The optimal level of inspiration (or lack thereof) not only varies from person to person, but it can also even change for a person throughout the day, depending on what they are trying to do. So people adapt their environment to do things right: for example, putting on headphones in a noisy office environment to replace less distracting noises.
A person who can’t get up and pace around to wake up a bit, or go for a nice cup of tea to still down, may find it supportive of usinga stir to put themselves in the right frame of mind to stay focused while they remain seated.
What Researchers Say
Our findings are consistent with personal accounts of toys helping children with attention or anxiety problems stay focused and calm in class. Fidget toys have been available to children for quite some time.
There is no definitive study yet on the impact of these toys on the world of research. In a preliminary study investigating stress balls, sixth graders who used these fidget toys during tuition independently reported that their “attitude, attentiveness, writing skills, and interaction with their peers have improved”.
The closest significant research is the study by Julie Schweitzer, a behavioural science professor at UC Davis, of letting children with ADHD fidget by squirming, jumping, or squirming in place while working on a concentration-based task in the lab called the “flanker paradigm”. He found that more significant overall movement (measured with an ankle accelerometer) in children with ADHD helped them perform this cognitively demanding task.
For young kids and sensory seekers, the tactile appeal of flipping, twisting and turning makes the Infinite Fidget Cube easy to pick up—and almost impossible to put down! It is a fabulous ‘fidget’ for school or home, a beautiful therapeutic fine motor tool.
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