They’re the latest craze in the children’s toy market, with store owners reportedly selling dozens a day.
Fidget spinners – hand-held triangular contraptions with rounded edges meant to be held between the thumb and the forefinger and given a vigorous spin – have taken children in East London and throughout the world by storm.
Reaction to them has been mixed. While hailed by some parents as an anti-stress device with the same calming effect as adult stress balls, others have labelled them as trash.
Some primary schools have embraced them as a tool for keeping over-active young minds engaged between lessons, and others have banned them.
In East London, toy store owners are cashing in. Spinners are made from either plastic or aluminium and differ vastly in price. Uncle Paul’s owner, Bao Quon, stocks a range including one with LED lights which glow when spinning, and says he sells 50 to 60 a day.
Owner of Slater’s Toy Magic, Debbie Maclachlan, said her sales ranged between 30 and 40 a day. According to Maclachlan, she decided to stock them six weeks ago after numerous requests from parents.
“This is not just a toy but an educational device as well. It helps reduce stress, anxiety and boredom in children,” she said. “Children have a need to be constantly busy, and fidgeting with something, and this helps with that. Parents have really taken to them and the kids love them too. Some schools have also bought from me, and they plan to use them in the classroom to keep really active children occupied.”
Of the three East London schools contacted by the Daily Dispatch, one principal said he had not heard of them, one said they had taken to using them in the classroom, while another was in the process of conducting research on both the educational and safety aspects of the toy.
Gonubie Primary School principal Cyril Prinsloo said he had not yet encountered the toys at the school. “I’m not saying the kids don’t have them but it hasn’t come to my attention yet.
“We don’t have a specific toy policy at the school, but we will act if a child brings a dangerous toy to school.”
Cambridge Primary School Grade 4 head Sandy Flanagan said the school had bought three, which they were using in one class. “We are using them as an educational tool in conjunction with the school’s counsellor.
“If we have a child battling to sit still then I give it to them to keep their hands busy. But there are rules associated with it.
“They may only get one once all of their work is finished and children can only make use of the ones supplied by the school and may not bring their own from home.”
Stirling Primary School deputy principal Miles Dell said they were conducting research on the toys, with an open mind. “We are in the process of evaluating their effect on the children as part of our remedial services. I know that some schools have banned them and some have brought them inside the classroom. As things stand, the children may bring them to school until a decision has been taken on them.”
Commenting on the Dispatch Facebook page, one parent asked where she could get one for her son, while Tony Fox gave the toys the thumbs down. “It’s so stupid. We had the same with the hula hoop, Rubik’s Cube and in the beginning even with cellphones…buy it for your kid but control its usage.” — firstname.lastname@example.org