The Effect of Fidget Spinners on Attention and Anxiety in Typically Developing Children

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Kirby, Taylor
Washburn University
Department of Psychology
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Advertisements have led consumers to believe that fidget spinners assist children in maintaining attention and decreasing stress (Libassi, 2017). The current study tested these claims with a sample of 47 typically developing children, ages 8 to 12. Participants were randomly assigned to use a fidget spinner or not (control group) while completing a test of attention and working memory as well as an anxiety-provoking task. The experimental and control group did not differ in age, gender, experience with fidget spinners, or parent-rated anxiety. However, the experimental group received higher parent ratings of hyperactivity compared to the control group prior to the experimental manipulation. Contrary to expectations, the experimental group (M = 22) and control group (M = 25) did not differ with regard to performance during the attention and working memory task, t(45) = .605, p = .548, d = .18. Additionally, the experimental group (M = 3.05; SD = 2.22) and control group (M = 3.54; SD = 2.08) also did not differ with regard to peak anxiety during the anxiety provoking task, t(45) = -.266, p = .79, d = .08. Fidget spinners do not appear to disrupt attention or decrease anxiety among typically developing children.