I start with “ugh!” because I paid for the Special Edition of TIME today on THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING and opened it up by chance to an article with a picture of a child holding a fidget spinner with the caption, “Fidget spinners can help children with ADHD focus.” WTF? I thought. Is the rest of the magazine going to present false claims? I scoured through the one-page article looking for a research citation, wondering whether the latest research shows something different than earlier studies, as I’d already written years ago about their ineffectiveness despite the hype (Fidgeting: Spin vs. Science).
Well, the article had no research cited. So I pulled up pubmed.gov to check on the latest. I found a 2020 study. As prior research, it shows that fidget spinners DECREASE kids’ ability to focus (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29676193/).
The FIU researchers found, “Children’s use of fidget spinners was associated with poorer attention across both phases of treatment.” They concluded, “Fidget spinners negatively influence young children with ADHD’s attentional functioning, even in the context of an evidence-based classroom intervention.”
A glance at other recent research revealed that there are now battery-powered fidget spinners that some kids are swallowing. So I ended up learning something.
Oh, TIME magazine, you disappointed. A reminder to check our facts.