Fidget toys are toys that a student could hold and manipulate during tasks such as sensory putty or a fidget spinner. The toy has been promoted as helping people who have trouble focusing or those who fidget to relieve nervous energy, anxiety, or psychological stress. There are claims that a fidget spinner can help calm down people who have anxiety and other neurological disorders like ADHD and autism.
Despite their immense popularity in 2017, the research shows no support of their efficacy in those therapeutic claims. One meta-review found no empirical support for claims that fidget spinners assist students with attention and impulsivity issues (Jahangir, Memon, & Noor, 2018). Another meta-review found similar results, claiming they found no empirical support for fidget toys and that the claim that they serve as an intervention or tool for students with attention and impulsivity concerns are scientifically unfounded (Schecter, Shah, Fruitman, & Milanaik, 2017). A very recent publication has actually found that fidget spinners specifically had negative impact on the attentional functioning of young students with ADHD based on a 60 participant randomized control trial (RCT) classroom study (Graziano, Garcia, & Landis, 2018). This suggests that perhaps we should discourage the use of this product for student with attentional concerns. One study did however find that fidget toys could increase the fine motor skills of students, at least in the short term (Cohen, Bravi, & Minciacchi, 2018). They do however state that this effect does not seem to be in any way inherent to fidget spinners themselves as much as to object manipulation in general.
Research Rating: Due to the multiple coinciding meta-reviews and the results of a RCT study the results discussed above are trusted as reliable and valid.
Short term increases in fine motor performance.
Easy to implement
Negative impacts on attention in students with ADHD.
Special Consideration: Workflow
Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed.
$ - Under $5
$$ - Between $6 and $50
$$$ - Between $51 and $250
$$$$ - Over $250
Cohen, E. J., Bravi, R., & Minciacchi, D. (2018). The effect of fidget spinners on fine motor control. Scientific reports, 8(1), 3144.
Graziano, P. A., Garcia, A. M., & Landis, T. D. (2018). To fidget or not to fidget, that is the question: a systematic classroom evaluation of fidget spinners among young children with ADHD. Journal of attention disorders, 1087054718770009.
Jahangir, M., Memon, R., & Noor, M. (2018) Are fidget spinners really helpful?). Journal of Pakistan Medical Association, 68(5), 832.
Schecter, R. A., Shah, J., Fruitman, K., & Milanaik, R. L. (2017). Fidget spinners: Purported benefits, adverse effects and acc
Written by Harrison McNaughtan, Last Revision November 2018