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Banned: Growing number of high schools prohibiting fidget spinners

Posted May 9

Schools across the country are banning the toy that every kid wants - the fidget spinner.

According to SpinnerList, which claims to be the biggest database of all fidget spinners and makers on the market, 32 percent of the top 200 high schools in the United States have banned the toys.

The press release arrived in my inbox at about the same time my Wake County middle schooler's English teacher included this line in her weekly email to parents: "Fidget Spinners: They are no longer allowed in class because they are a distraction. They have not helped any student stay focused (except for focusing on doing tricks during instruction)."

I've also heard from students, parents and teachers in other local schools that the toys are being banned, typically on a class-by-class basis. No school or system in the region have banned the toys entirely.

As I wrote late last month, the toys are all the rage at schools across the Triangle - and far beyond. The two- or three-pronged gadget rests on your fingers so that you can spin them. They are designed, according to manufacturers, to help those with ADHD, autism and other issues, joining other kinds of "fidget" toys that help some people focus.

In reality, teachers say they are a real distraction in the classroom as just about everybody has one - whether they need it to focus or not.

For the study, SpinnerList contacted the 200 largest high schools in the country - 100 public and 100 private schools. According to the website, 63 high schools indicated that fidget spinners are currently banned or will be by the end of the week. Of those 63, 27 are public high schools and 36 are private high schools.

Officials at three local school systems - Wake County, Cumberland County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro - say there are no district policies to prohibit the toys.

"According to our principals, some of our students are using fidget spinners," wrote Renarta C. Moyd with Cumberland County Schools in an email. "We have not seen any major problems with them because our teachers and school administrators are constantly reiterating to students the purpose of the tool. Also, central services has not addressed problems with fidget spinners."

In Wake County, Lisa Luten, the system's director of communications, wrote in an email that it's not a system-wide issue.

"Teachers set their own classroom rules. No school has banned them," she wrote. "... Some teachers encourage them. It really depends on the students and the teacher."

7 Comments

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  • Ashley Moore May 10, 12:01 p.m.
    user avatar

    Why are high school kids taking toys to school?

  • Leslie Blair May 10, 9:35 a.m.
    user avatar

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/lets-investigate-the-nonsense-claim-that-fidget-spinners-can-treat-adhd-autism-and-anxiety

  • Betsy Sparks May 10, 8:21 a.m.
    user avatar

    @Henry, private school is $20k a year, so that's not a better alternative to a $10 therapy tool. The kids using them for therapy aren't the problem. The kids buying the toy ones that are excessively noisy and glitzed-out are. The kids using them for therapy are not throwing them around and doing tricks in the middle of class. 25 humming spinners may make noise, especially if the kids are buying the fancy ones designed for games and playing with them the entire class. One child using a basic spinner for therapy as needed is quieter than kids talking in class and the other classroom disruptions.

  • Henry Cooper May 10, 1:30 a.m.
    user avatar

    If you do some reading about their effectiveness vs the myriad of alternatives that are quieter and less distracting this should not even be a question.

    We cannot sacrifice the education of 90% of kids due to spinners. If the child is so ADHD that this is the only therapy (most likely they would be considered to have hyperfocus ADHD) then private schools are better equipped to handle the condition or home schooling is an alternative.

    At some point we have to consider the rest of the kids and the underpaid teachers. Adding another layer to what teachers have to monitor and police in class is not doing justice to the rest of the students. They count also.

  • Janet Ghumri May 9, 7:06 p.m.
    user avatar

    Seems to me that the Fidget Spinners are like anything else that becomes 'The Rage'. Every kid wants it, because of it's popularity not for a bona fided medical issue. Like all the gadgets, toys, trading cards, games etc. before it, the novelty will wane, and be replaced by the next new gadget on yhe market. I hope that the kids who benefit from it will be allowed to keep using it. Banning them outright just plays into the rush to get one. It should be handled on a case by case basis.

  • Betsy Sparks May 9, 5:45 p.m.
    user avatar

    @Megan, my son has ADHD. He has only had his fidget spinner for a couple of days, but it's done wonders for him. I hope his school doesn't ban them. If they do, I will get documentation of his diagnosis from his doctor and request that he be allowed to use it.

  • Megan Goodson May 9, 4:38 p.m.
    user avatar

    This saddens me that the kids that actually need it won't get to use it. It also saddens me that these tools have expanded to every child. As an adult with ADHD I would have done anything to have one of these "spinners" or "fidget cubes".

    School Leaders please make exceptions for the students who need them to sit still and pay attention. I know it's hard to believe but there are students that need them.