Fidget spinners: Purported benefits, adverse effects and accepted alternatives

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2017 Oct;29(5):616-618. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000523.


Purpose of review: In the span of a few months, fidget spinners have caught the eyes of millions of children, parents, educators and paediatricians. Fidget spinners, hand-held toys designed to spin freely in your grasp, have become a source of entertainment for consumers of all ages. Despite a lack of scientific evidence, toy marketers have advertised the benefits of fidget spinners for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other disorders (e.g. autism, anxiety, sensory issues). Parents are incentivized by these purported benefits to purchase fidget spinners to improve their child's concentration and decrease stress.

Recent findings: While fidget spinners are a new phenomenon, existing therapy toys (e.g. sensory putty) have been used by occupational therapists for similar reasons, with comparably little research supporting these claims. The purpose of this review is to explore literature regarding sensory toys and examine educator/professional-reported concerns and medical adverse effects of using fidget spinners.

Summary: Due to a recent surge in popularity, fidget spinners and other self-regulatory occupational therapy toys have yet to be subjected to rigorous scientific research. Thus, their alleged benefits remain scientifically unfounded. Paediatricians should be aware of potential choking hazards with this new fad, and inform parents that peer-reviewed studies do not support the beneficial claims.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / rehabilitation*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / rehabilitation*
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Occupational Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Occupational Therapy / psychology
  • Play and Playthings / injuries
  • Play and Playthings / psychology*
  • Schools
  • Self-Control