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It can be a useful tool to help students stay focused, therapists agree.
More accurately, a distraction, argue teachers.
No, it's just fun, say kids.
The one thing everyone can agree on: fidget spinners -- the colorful, hand-held twirly device trending in area schools -- are here to stay, at least for a little while.
Fidget spinners, which come in a variety of styles, sizes and colors, are all the rage. Stores can't keep them in stock, and youngsters are collecting them by the handful.
But what exactly is a fidget spinner and why are kids finding them so appealing?
Third-graders in Massillon City's Whittier Elementary School said they like playing with the inexpensive spinners, which can be personalized. Kids are spending hours learning tricks and trading them with friends.
School officials see the value in a toy that can be used to keep students who have trouble sitting still and paying attention on task. But, say teachers, the spinners have become more of a disruption in the classroom than a helpful tool.
A basic fidget spinner is a two- or three-pronged sphere with a bearing in its center, circular pad. A person holds the center pad while the prongs spin. Fidget spinners and other devices in the fidget category can be useful tools in helping children, especially those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, stay focused in school so they can learn.
Improved concentration was noted in some children who played with the device, which can provide an outlet for excessive movement, said Sarah Groves, a mental health therapist at Akron Children's Hospital.
The fidgets allow restless kids to release excess energy in an appropriate manner, she explained, which is helpful when restraint is called for, such as during a long car ride, in church or in the classroom.
For some students, fidget spinners cross the line from tool to toy, and the twirling becomes a distraction in the classroom.
While area educators have not banned fidgets from schools, some teachers are not allowing kids to have them during class time, and others have asked kids to leave them at home.
At Whittier Elementary, Principal Matt Plybon is treating the device as a toy.
"We encourage our kids to leave their toys at home," he said.
Plybon applauds the benefits of fidget spinners for idle hands during long car rides, but believes a better alternative for students during their free time at school would be reading a book.
For the most part, Whittier students have been leaving their spinners at home.
Brayden Keller has ADHD. He says his fidget spinner has helped him concentrate on tasks such as homework.
The 10-year-old Whittier third-grader says gets distracted easily and the fidget spinner helps him regain his focus.
And, he admits, they're a lot of fun to play with.
Groves said parents may play the biggest role when it comes to figuring out it fidgets are fitting for a child. Most important, she advises, is setting rules and expectations for how, when and where a child should use the device.
Groves suggests educating children about what a fidget is and why it can be beneficial to them.
Finally, Groves suggests introducing the fidget in a controlled environment such as while doing homework, in church or in the car. This allows a child to practice using it while parents are able to supervise to ensure it is being used appropriately.
The writer needs to look up the definition of "sphere."