I logged onto Facebook yesterday morning to find several “friends” sharing articles about how a small non-tech physics toy is going to destroy our children. Really? It was pretty alarming not because of the toy but that seemingly normal people would come to a conclusion like this.
People. Stop for just a moment. Think. You’re talking about a toy. A small bearing, like the ones in your old rollerblades, that you hold in your hand and watch spin when you’re bored out of your mind. Yep. Sounds dangerous for sure.
Here’s the thing. Boredom is real and seems to be happening more and frequently in a child’s life. And I’m not talking the summer time “I’m bored because my time is usually taken up by school and friends and now I’m stuck at home with my brother all day.” kind of boredom. I’m talking soul-sucking, incessant, mind altering boredom, the “This meeting is going on forever! He’s saying nothing I haven’t heard or read. And if I don’t get out of here I’m going to explode!” kind. And it’s being done to children at a younger age every year. We expect children that are way too young to sit still, listen, and follow directions way too much and too early. They have few, if any, breaks. They are compelled to learn too many things in a way that is far from developmentally appropriate and then we sit and scratch our heads why more and more children are becoming depressed, anxiety ridden, overweight, and aggressive. As these kids age, we wonder why they are becoming withdrawn, outwardly angry, and obnoxious. It’s amazing to me really.
And it’s not just schools. Parents at home are attempting after school to direct every move a child makes. And expecting children to comply with these directives and not ever be sad, angry, slow, or inattentive. I see it at the playground, at the grocery store, and in restaurants. It’s depressing really.
Let the children play! I know you want to just get through the grocery store, but you gave birth to a child and now that child needs you. I know you want to sit through a dinner out and have a conversation, but you have a two-year-old. It’s not going to happen, well, not without damaging the child and the relationship.
And then there is the amazingly alluring bandwagon of “Whatever Children See as Entertaining and Fun is Inherently Evil”! I swear if kids didn’t want a toy, parents and educators everywhere would be asking the government to set up a program to make sure all kids had one and were required to use it so many hours a day. Kids like things that adults usually don’t. It’s a fact of nature. Get over it. Yes, you think it’s stupid but they don’t. Try an exercise in seeing things from someone else’s point of view and engage your children, find out what is attractive about the thing. Children are humans with their own set of needs and wants that are just as important as yours.
And finally, is a spinning distracting toy the first thing any bored person has every played with to pass the time and ease anxiety while waiting through something horribly boring? No. When I was a kid we folded up pieces of paper and flicked them across desks, we’d bend paper clips so that they’d flip open and bounce, we’d tap pencils, and slide them through our fingers, we’d spin spoons around on the table or flick pennies so they’d spin like tops. Then our parents/teachers would give us “the look” and we’d put them in our pockets and try to bare through another dinner with Aunt Janice or lecture about why we’d need the Pythagorean Theorem…again…God forbid that a child try to pass the time with some fun, or attempt to quell the anxiety welling up inside them as they listen to a teacher talk about something far from their interests. I wonder if a kid had made one of these fidget toys it would be ok. Is it just that someone manufactured them and marketed them? Probably.
Yes, there are some kids that naturally sit still and listen attentively. I personally believe those are the kids you need to watch out for, something creepy and less intelligent in my opinion. Most kids need to move. They need to get busy. They need to be active agents in their lives with adults to support and encourage their exploration. I bet if you got rid of the classroom, most of the anxiety would disappear. I know I hear people saying we (as a nation) need to “keep up” with China and Japan when it comes to math and science, but at what cost? Do we really need to? That’s a whole other post.
Leave people alone. There is no toy on the planet that will destroy the world, unless maybe it’s nuclear powered or something. How about this? If you or your child seem to have a lot of symptoms of anxiety that need to helped by fidgety toys, drugs, and therapy, maybe you should look at what’s causing that anxiety and see if you can get rid of it. You don’t keep spraying air freshener and never go find out where the smell is coming from and remove the item!
I googled “fidget toy bad” and found all kinds of crazy articles. The one at the end of this post was my favorite. Also, I think I’m going to go out and buy one just to see what the craze is all about. Oh! One more thing, my sons knew about these toys before me. They are homeschooled and don’t have a lot of schooled friends, or friends at all really. They aren’t sequestered or anything, they’re just introverts much like their Dad, Grandfather, Uncle, etc. They just aren’t interested in a lot of socializing. They knew about the toy because they are mentioned in memes and videos. When we were at the observatory last week, they were amazed that they really are everywhere. They marveled at people spinning “in the wild”! There were several middle and high school field trips that day and just about every other kid had one spinning. Crazy.