On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross and professor of psychology Dr. Michael Bordieri discuss fidget spinners and the importance of treating mental illness and behavioral issues through scientifically established methods.
Bordieri says that although fidget spinners are marketed as tools to improve attention, cure anxiety, and relieve stress, there is no evidence that they actually improve mental health. If a child exhibits behavioral or mental health issues, Bordieri says it is important to visit a doctor.
“In general, the danger here is if we seek these sorts of things out rather than established techniques or medicines or other sorts of approaches, there’s an opportunity cost,” Bordieri said. “If you have a child who might be struggling with inattention and getting into trouble at school, buying a fidget spinner instead of going to the doctor really can do some harm because it takes you away from those treatments that can help.”
It is important to view products marketed as treatment for mental health and behavioral issues with a critical eye. Bordieri says there are many unhelpful and even dangerous products and services on the market, like bleach sold as a cure for autism and unregulated disciplinary boot camps for unruly teens, for which there is no scientific evidence to indicate them as effective treatments. Fidget spinners are just the latest addition to the list.
“Fidget spinners aren’t in themselves harmful but it is harmful when we start accepting things at face value that they can help without really asking where’s the data, where’s the evidence that they can help us. I think we can look for toys that we enjoy but when it comes to treating mental health problems we want to make sure we have the best science supporting what we do,” Bordieri concludes.