A few weeks ago kids were scooting around in unicorn onesies playing Pokemon Go.
Now they’re fiddling with ball bearing-bound gadgets as the fidget spinner takes off faster than the fad’s pint-sized wheel can whirl.
If you’re a parent in a spin over the craze, you’re not alone.
The palm-size gadgets that seemed to lob out of nowhere are now the must-have accessory in schoolyards everywhere – and the pressure is on parents not to spoil the fun.
Starting at just a few dollars, fidgies, as my friend’s daughter has coined them, won’t exactly break the bank, and the cost of not letting your child have one is likely to be greater.
In my 30 years at Centacare, I’ve seen my fair share of fads come and go – many far more expensive than fidget spinners.
Through our services, we’ve supported countless parents in a pickle over when to draw the line: Do they risk their child being left out of the crowd or pander to the cycle of ever-changing novelty trends?
There’s been loom bands, swap cards, Tazo Pickers and Dizks, Furby fever, Tamagotchi virtual egg-shaped pets, Beanie Boos and Polly Pocket to name only a few.
And let’s not forget Cabbage Patch kids which hit their peak in 1985 and sparked frenzied shop scuffles as the public scrambled for the dolls with the unique names, adoption papers and birth certificate.
On price point alone, the fidget spinner is not a bad investment, with the toy likely to deliver far greater social returns to your child. For the sake of a few bucks, is depriving them of such a gadget worth the possible repercussions?
Running with the crowd is part of child development. Most kids want to be part of the group and, rightly or wrongly, that often means having the toy that has besotted their peers.
We all went through it. In my day it was the trinkets rattling around the bottom of the Coco Pops box that had kids scoffing breakfast cereal at record speed – at their parents’ expense.
If you deem fidget spinners inappropriate on moral or other grounds, fair enough. Take footy swap cards which set off recess and lunch-time disputes over unfair trades, and have since been banned at some schools.
For parents who are reluctant to automatically cave to the craze, I suggest using the fidget spinner for a finance lesson. Instead of rushing out and being the first to buy what’s cool, use pocket money and wish lists to hand your child responsibility for purchasing the latest trends.
Sure, they might have to wait a little while to save up enough for what they want, but it will help them learn the value of money.
Challenging your child to justify a fad’s cost, and even talking openly about peer pressure can be helpful too. And if after a few weeks they’re bored with what they swore would change their life, consider handing the toy down to a sibling or friend.
Fidget spinners… Strike me pink, what will they think of next?
Dale West is Director of Centacare Catholic Family Services