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Is the fidget spinner driving us all mad?

| September 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

In late July, 2017, Russia’s consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, issued a warning that fidget spinners could be addictive and dangerous. The interestingly shaped plastic toys are the latest craze for children and parents around the globe. Some parents, however, claimed Rospotrebnadzor, are deeply concerned about the impact the toy may have on their offspring.

The watchdog also stated that it would ask scientists to “study the effects of the influence of spinners on children’s health, including possible negative consequences”. The announcement came after a show called Virus on Rossiya 24 television on 12 July 2017 suggested that the plastic toy had a strange chemical smell, which could account for it being an “instrument for zombifying” and a “form of hypnosis”. Shortly thereafter, the pro-Kremlin online news site Life News, ran a documentary that described the deaths of seven children, linking their demise to the fidget spinner.

Fidget spinners are particularly popular in the US, France and Britain, where some schools have banned them. US president Donald Trump’s son Barron was photographed as he played with one. Many behavioural specialists are trying to calm the storm. Katherine Isbister, professor of computational media at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the US, commented that the fidget spinner was one of the top-selling toys on Some kids are even making their own with 3D printers. Isbister says the fidget spinner craze is not likely to disappear soon, citing the millions around the globe who compulsively click ballpoint pens. Isbister’s research says that fidgeting helps some people focus and calms others down.

Her team has been studying the use of stress balls and she says, “Sixth graders who used these fidget toys during instruction independently reported that their ‘attitude, attention, writing abilities, and peer interaction improved’.” Other scientist have reported that children with attention deficit problems who are allowed to “fidget” in some way are more likely to complete tasks on time. Isbister points out that what’s causing the fuss about fidget spinners is that they require hand-eye coordination. “To use a fidget spinner, a person holds the centre of the spinner with thumb and finger, and then uses the other hand (or other fingers on the same hand) to get the spinner rotating. Once it’s spinning, there are tricks to be explored, like balancing the rotating spinner on a thumb,” explains Isbister. This, of course, is what’s driving teachers mad.

In China, fidget spinners are old news. Chinese kids are begging for handheld mini-crossbows (dubbed “toothpick crossbows”) that can fire needles and nails, and which are the latest must-have toy in China – but anxious parents want them banned before a young child gets blinded or worse. One parent wrote on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter: “Hurry up [and ban them], pupils do not understand and are just shooting people for fun.

It will cause accidents sooner or later.” Meanwhile, the Kickstarter online fundraising campaign for the Fidget Cube – another popular fidget toy in 2017 – has raised an astounding US$6.4 million, and can be seen on the desks of hipsters and techies across the globe.

Category: e-Education

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