Fourth-grader Camden Lashua stood outside his Fitchburg home Thursday afternoon chatting and absently playing with his new “fidget spinner.”
“It sort of helps me focus,” he said. “It does help with stress.”
It’s also, he added, “really fun.”
The palm-sized device, which can be spun with a flick of a finger, may be advertised as a way to improve concentration and reduce anxiety. But the low-tech spinners have also become the hot toy among elementary- and middle-school students.
However, not everyone agrees on the device’s benefits, and schools in some districts are trying to keep the spinners out of the classroom.
“We’ve been confiscating and taking them unless they (have special allowance from the school),” said James Cardac, principal of Kathyrn Philbin Stoklosa Middle School in Lowell.
Nissitissit Middle School in Pepperell has a similar policy, calling the toys “highly distracting” in a blog post published Thursday.
At Johnny Appleseed Elementary School in Leominster, Assistant Principal Patricia King and other administrators are organizing a response to the device’s sudden popularity, which King said she first learned about Wednesday.
“One of the teachers asked me what we should do about it and I told her, well, that looks like a toy to me,” she said. “One of the kids said, ‘No, this is a fidget'” — that is, a device intended to help children focus.
Administrators are still developing a consistent schoolwide policy, she said.
Michael LaCava, principal at Harrington Elementary School in Chelmsford, wrote parents last week the spinners “have become more of a distraction than a helpful tool for our students trying to focus in class. Most students are using them as ‘toys,’ especially the items that spin between their fingers.” LaCava said parents may request their children be allowed to have the spinners in class.
At Westford’s Crisafulli School, students may have the devices in class at the teacher’s discretion, but may not bring them to lunch or recess.