All your questions about fidget spinners, answered

Story highlights

  • Toy or tool? The spinners started as an aide for kids with ADHD, now a worldwide fad

  • The gadgets may help some kids concentrate, but distract others

(CNN)If you know a middle school kid, or a parent or teacher of one, chances are you've seen the simple little colorful device that's driving them all crazy lately.

It's called a fidget spinner, and even its name gives you a clue as to why some classrooms are banning them -- and some toy stores are selling out. The toy is the latest craze to sweep the globe, but it actually has a really interesting history as an educational tool.

Here's everything you need to know, but please be warned: Just because you know what a fidget spinner is doesn't guarantee you'll understand why, exactly, it is so incredibly popular. To the uninitiated (or the adult), toy fads can be a complete mystery.

What is it?

A fidget spinner is considered to be a type of fidget toy; a low profile, handheld device that people can, well, fidget with without making a big scene. A fidget spinner has a stable middle and a disc with two or three paddles that can be spun, much like a ceiling fan. The result is supposed to be relaxing and satisfying, and really good spinners can keep going for minutes at a time.

The little devices were originally designed to help students with attention disorders like ADD -- expert say having something to occupy their hands may help improve concentration. However, the spinners caught on with the general population, and now come in every color and finish imaginable, with add-ons and doo-hickeys galore.


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