It's the hottest toy out right now, but why all the hype?

Yesterday, I visited an old friend and as we parted ways she mentioned she was headed to the mall. Her son was definitely ready to hit the road as he tugged on her clothing, motioning for her to move toward the door.

As she made her way out of the door she mentioned that they were going to the mall to get him a "fidget spinner." My semi-puzzled reaction must have given away the fact that it was the first time I had ever heard the term, so she explained to me that this "fidget spinner" was a toy that kids are using to "help them calm down."

Apparently, a store that sells them in the mall had been sold out for a while and had just got a new shipment. The excitement on her son's face was on a Hatchimal/Pokemon level, so I had to find out more about these fidget spinners.

What I quickly learned was that kids everywhere were freaking out over these new toys.

But is it really a toy?

According to everything I found online, the season's hottest toy is being marketed as a tool to help with ADHD, anxiety and even autism. Some even promise "greater concentration" and the opportunity to "bring out that creative genius lying deep within you."

But the schools don't see it that way at all.

The small ball-bearing devices are made to spin between fingers, and while I haven't personally used one it seems as if the sensory experience is what gives it's user the calming effect. This may explain why kids are begging their parents for fidget spinners, saying that they need them in order to "stay calm" on stressful test days, or to "stay focused" in class.

Ranging anywhere from $3-$15 (they can actually get WAY more expensive) it's an easy sell for any parent who wants to see their children do better in school, but many are finding out that their kids can't even bring the toy to school.

I don't have a full list, but after asking a handful of local parents I know about the fidget spinners, every single one told me their child had one. It should also be noted that every single one also told me their child's school doesn't allow them to bring them into class.

So is it genius marketing? Do the fidget spinners actually work as a tool? If so, why are schools banning them?

Here is a letter sent to the parents of Youngsville Middle School students:

The Learning Express store in Pennsylvania sings the small gadgets praises,

It stimulates the part of the mind that gets bored, so they can fidget with that, and then they can be creative thinking otherwise. The part that gets bored gets stimulated, and it helps them focus the other part of their brain.

It should be noted that the Learning Express store sells the fidget spinners, so their opinions may be a bit biased. There are others who aren't so thrilled with the fidget spinners. One essay from a teacher (titled "The Effing Worst") wasn't so positive.

The only thing my students seem to focus on is the spinner, itself, and not their work. It’s like a friggin’ siren song. The allure of someone else’s spinner spinning is too much to bear. As the teacher, I am thoroughly distracted by your child’s trendy toy. It makes it difficult for me to focus and do my job, and I worry about the students in the room who are completely thrown off track because it’s all they see. These are not the helpful devices they were intended to be.

This is probably the reason the spinners are banned from classrooms. Even if they do help kids concentrate as advertised, the inevitable variable is the kid(s) who will be distracted by the spinning gadgets.

With that said, some parents see the toy as a savior for their kids who deal with anxiety or other similar issues.

People have forgotten why and who they were intended for. My son depends on these 'fidgets' to help with social interactions and his extreme anxiety. They help him calm in a discrete way and avoids awkward stares. When situations become overwhelming due to his sensory processing disorder he grabs either a spinner or cube and he can calm himself without a meltdown or anxiety attack. These are essential for everyday living in our house.

But teachers still aren't buying it and issues an interesting challenge to parents who feel like the fidget spinners are a good idea for the classroom.

Coming from a teacher... it is a distraction in the classroom. I think it's a great toy. But when it keeps you from doing your work and is distracting others that not a helpful tool. Please do not send them to school! If you think it will help your child stay focused test it out at home first, when they are doing their homework. Please tell me how much homework they get done while using the spinner.

Then there are also the kids who are buying the spinners in bulk and selling them at school for twice the cost and turning a profit. I guess we can't really knock them for being young entrepreneurs, right?

Beyond the alleged usage for kids with anxiety and other conditions, there are many people who enjoy the fidget spinners. The internet is full of tutorials and challenges that involve people tossing, twirling and transferring the spinners.

Is it a passing fad? Is it something that could be a real tool for kids with anxiety? Only time will tell, but in the meantime fidget spinners are all the rage and parents are on the hunt.

Do you have a fidget spinner at home? Should they be allowed in schools? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

[via KARE, Daily Herald, Time]