Itching for the latest craze... behold the spidget widget

In her weekly column, Denise Hession asks if parents are being naive or gullible when it comes to the new spinning gadgets, which have taken the world by storm
Itching for the latest craze... behold the spidget widget
Fidget Widget Spidget

IT’S the latest craze, the fidget spinner. Behold the spidget widget — for every boy and a lot of girls in world will have one before the clocks strikes midnight tonight.

Some spell much have been cast over the whole world, and wasn’t it music to the manufacturer’s ears when they heard it and proceeded to sell 20 million of the whirly spinnits to America’s biggest retailers? That’s not counting the probable 60 million manufactured in factories across China which supply the black market.

The product, which reached my radar only week ago has (I’m always slow to the trend), is everywhere in Qatar — shops, supermarkets, market stalls — in every colour, design and material, with lights, without lights, whatever. For just QR.12 (€3), you too can own a spinning gadget.

The scope of the fad didn’t dawn on me until I received an email from my sister-in-law, wondering if she would put me down on the waiting list in Ireland for one! I had a mental picture of kids lined up outside Smyths, foostering and fidgeting to the point where parents were bringing them in to get something for it, immediately, if not sooner. Really, are we that gullible, that susceptible to media pressure. Are we that naive? Yes, yes, evidently, is the answer to that.

The optimist in us bleats on about how psychologists and therapist are saying they’re great for kids, designed to be used in conjunction with everyday life. Cleverly marketing as a supportive treatment for ADHD, autism and anxiety, the listed benefits are impressive. Apparently, they do all kinds of things for kids that have sensory issues, nervous ticks, anxiety, attention disorders, poor appetite, backchat... OK, maybe not all of those but certainly the first few are broadly reported as being receptive to the toy. Ingenious, right up there with the Rubik’s cube, but without the puzzle.

So, I’m wondering, if mindlessly spinning this palm size gadget benefits children with various issues, does the use of the gadget by children who don’t have these issues actually give them the itch to fidget?

My own approach to a fidgety child has always been to deliver the words, ‘STOP FIDGETING’, I would presume that others like myself, having found this method ineffective and instead of trying to eradicate fidgeting, have resorted to the fidget spinner to create a space for it. Harness it. Box it off. Contain it.

Instead of the fidget finner being a triumph of marketing for kids, it’s actually a clever and sophisticated marketing tactic for adults.

So eager are we as parents diagnose, deal with and deliver answers to any problems our kids might have, we are at the mercy of any old therapy, proven or not, that boasts benefits to our children. We will run out and buy it, not because we believe but because we’re afraid not to!

What was that over the past few years when we were harping on about mindfulness, stillness, just ‘being’, yoga, feeling the breeze on your toes, breathing techniques and the power of now? After all the time and effort it took to finally get mindfulness introduced into national schools in Ireland, are we now about to gather up the yoga mats with haste and fling them far because we’ve a new toy now, the fidget spinner? Forget all that ‘keep calm and be mindful stuff’, run out and buy a spidget winner, that way you can ensure you have something to do in those in-between moments when you have other stuff to do. i.e. walking from the car to the house, after you’ve put on your seatbelt and before the car starts, or the moment your mom stands to talk to someone in a supermarket... for those seconds of upcoming boredom, you can whip out your fidget spinner and fill that time right up.

We’ve created a generation of kids that are unable to watch a movie or take a car journey without having a preoccupation, and they’ve created a generation of parents that are preoccupied with keeping the kids occupied.

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