Funnily or sadly enough, the inventor of fidget spinners is not making a dime, Catherine Hettinger. She created the infamous fidget spinner 20 years ago. She pitched it to Hasbro, one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world, but they were not interested in it. Eventually, Mrs Hettinger was unable to pay the renewal of the fidget spinner patent, resulting in other people making money from her original idea.
My saying as a teacher
I have now been teaching in the UK for over 10 years and I can recall how I perceived things back then and realise some big differences, consequences of a fast pacing society, that we are having in our lives. We adults are having them too, but children are like sponges: they absorbe for better or worse very easily and they are incredibly adaptable. Hence they adopt trends and make them their own at the speed of light. Luckily, they also forget about some of these not so positive ones very fast too. I hope this happens with the fidget spinner craze too.
I am a teacher myself and I also live with some of my students in a boarding house which, in the last couple of years, has given me a better understanding of students beyond their academic life. I think I have a bit of a perspective when I talk about children. I have worked in both ends of the sector: state school where some of my pupils did not have the best chances in life and privileged students now.
We all have been lately complaining about the ultimate -in my humble opinion- money waste which is making children and teenagers go crazy. The damned fidget spinners. My sister teaches in Spain and they have arrived there too. Whoever is behind this is a genius, because they are not very expensive to make but they can cost loads of money if they are a collectable item.
Life before fidget spinners for our children and for us.
I wonder how we all coped before this? (Sarcastic tone intended).
I am not trying to imply that there are zero benefits to this and that this toy cannot help some people. I struggle to believe that so many of us need to be twiddling this item non stop to help us concentrate. Is this a solution or are we creating a need and a problem we did not have?
We have always resorted to some sort of technique either aware or unaware of it. Clicking pens, twitchy movements of our foot and other similar acts seem to be a very natural answer to stress that all of us have experienced at a certain point. Does it mean that we are supper stressed? I am sure it does in some cases.
How many people bought them and use them currently.
Millions and millions and we do not have exact figures as it is not a patented item and it is sold under many names. I believe most of the fidget spinner users, teenage ones and younger, just do not want to be left out or be seen as not cool. So it is one of these things one must buy.
The result is that an increasingly number of young people are being reported to disrupt lessons and not giving it the use for which it was intended originally.
A generation addicted to dopamine
The root of this stress problem which the fidget spinner claims to solve is that in many cases is that we do not have realistic expectations or we have bad habits. For instance, being overstimulated either by the tv, mobile or media in general.
We are making our children and ourselves addictive to dopamine, there are many studies that are already warning us about this. The addition to quick reward and novelty is far more dangerous than what we think. By not monitoring the use of screens and other devices, we are feeding this bad habit, and our brains and the rest of our lives will suffer from it.
A viral letter from a teacher who used to be a “fidgety boy”and his vision on fidget spinners
Last week in Spain a letter from a teacher talking about fidget spinners became viral. He explained how he, as a child, was a rather unsettled boy who was always looking to do something new. His students, nowadays, ask him how come he is so creative and he is able to do so many different things. His answer his simple: He put his energy into creative things; painting, dancing, etc and he found that not only he felt much less fidgety but also that he learn and developed a passion for arts in general.
I totally agree when he says “I believe that we should stop developing consumerist habits at the expense of developing the brains of our future generations“. He talks about how he does not think that Einstein, Steve Jobs or any of the big names you can think about are any different from any of us. They just knew how to concentrate better and the fidget spinner is proving to be more of a distraction in general. (you can find a decently readable thought not perfect letter in English via Google Translate here).
The culture of the quick fix and the perfect life
Another important lesson that we should teach our children is that life is not perfect: they are going to like or be liked by everyone, not everything is amusing, life will throw blows at them when they expect it the least. In order to be happy, they will have to learn to deal with these things and accept them as part of life because there is not such a thing as a generic fidget spinner to solve our problems and frustrations. Take them and embrace the experience to grow wiser and stronger.
The answer is in ourselves
Maybe we have to reinforce that idea that children have to be able to do nothing some times and to be bored. It is a luxury that we, as adults do not get as much as we would like. They should allow their minds to wander and we and nothing or no one else should be the driving forces of our will.
Apart from some few, very few,diagnostic cases of people who can truly benefit from this kind of gadget most of us can do with practising resilience. It will be better for our minds, our lives and relationships and … lets not for get this last one: our pockets.