Do Fidget Spinners Really Help You Focus?
Do Fidget Spinners Really Help You Focus?

This episode is brought to you by Squarespace. Clicking your pen, tapping your feet— if you’ve ever had a boring class or long
project, you’ve probably been guilty of fidgeting. Now, there are lots of fidget toys for you
to push buttons, move joysticks, and take your absentminded motions to the next level. And the latest craze is fidget spinners. It seems like these things multiplied overnight,
and now every elementary and middle school student you know seems to have one. Sure, fidget spinners might be fun for kids,
but there are also claims that toys like it can actually increase focus in people with
conditions like ADHD and can ease anxiety symptoms. But is there any truth to that? Well, we actually aren’t sure. There’s some evidence they could be helpful,
but we still have a lot to figure out. Psychology research suggests that the amount
of sensory stimulation we need tends to vary from person to person— which is why you might love listening to music when you study but your roommate needs complete silence. People with conditions like attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, commonly report that they need more frequent stimulation, which can take different forms like touch
or movement. But that isn’t always easy to get in classrooms
or offices. So the basic idea behind fidget toys is that
you can regulate your own levels of certain kinds of stimulation, which could make it easier for your brain
to focus on the main thing you’re trying to do. And in people with anxiety, fidget toys could
also possibly help occupy parts of your brain to prevent you from getting wrapped up in
those worried or obsessive thoughts. Okay, so that all sounds great. But the problem is: there just isn’t that
much peer-reviewed research on fidget toys. A lot people say they’re helpful for all
sorts of things, including psychological disorders, but we’ll need more research to confirm
that before we say anything for sure. There’s been some research on people doing
multiple tasks to help them pay attention. For instance, a study in 2009 published in
the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology tested whether doodling helped with memory. It only involved 40 participants, which is
kind of small, but the study had interesting results. The researcher had all the participants listen
to a voice message about a party invitation and take notes about who was coming. Half of them were asked to shade in squares
and circles on a piece of paper while they were listening, while the other half just
sat there. And the ones that were doodling remembered
people and place names— which they weren’t asked to remember beforehand—slightly better than the non-doodlers! The researcher suggested that scribbling on
paper could help people keep their sensory stimulation at a good level. And because drawing is different than listening,
it’s not competing for the brainspace that they need to process words in the voice message. Another idea is that doodling might help people expend a little brain effort so they don’t start daydreaming, which is a big distraction, and can keep paying
attention to the main thing they’re trying to do. Multiple studies have also shown that moving
around, like with foot-jiggling, can increase focus in people with attention disorders. And there’s been a little bit of research
involving fidgeting with objects. There was one study in 2006 from the Journal
of At-Risk Issues that looked at stress balls, and they found that using them increased focus
and work quality in sixth graders. The study even lasted seven weeks, which means
the results probably weren’t caused by novelty— after two months, the shiny-ness of squeezing
a stress ball kind of wears off. But this study was also pretty small, with
only 29 participants, and it wasn’t directly related to attention disorders: Only 1 of the 29 students had been diagnosed
with ADHD. So it seems like fidget toys could have the
same effect, but no one’s really investigated them specifically. Many psychologists also point out that fidget
spinners are a lot different than stress balls or putty, which therapists sometimes recommend. These fidget items are only designed to be
felt and theoretically activate certain touch-related parts of the brain, which lets people focus on the main task in
front of them, like listening to a teacher or reading a book. Basically, the same reasoning as the doodling
study! Meanwhile, something like a fidget spinner
can require some hand-eye coordination or just suck up all your attention. So some psychologists have suggested that
fidget spinners really aren’t different from any other toy, which means they’re
just a distraction. There’s also the issue that, when you get
a bunch of fidget spinners in a room, all that whirring and spinning gets really
distracting, even if they are potentially helpful for some kids. Psychologists also stress that mental illness
is complicated, just like any other illness, so attention disorders or anxiety won’t
be cured by something as simple as a fidget toy. For now, it looks like some kind of fidgeting
or a side-activity like doodling could have some benefits, but we’ll need more peer-reviewed
research before we can say anything for sure. This episode is brought to you by Squarespace,
which lets users create custom websites or online stores with its all-in-one platform. If you’re looking to make your next move
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100 thoughts on “Do Fidget Spinners Really Help You Focus?”

  1. TheRibbonRed says:

    What about fidget cubes?

  2. Independence In Mind says:

    I actually prefer the fidget cubes.

  3. face punch says:

    fidget spinner don't help you focus on the task in front of you because they take all your attention

  4. Josh Derak says:

    Maybe just go for a walk instead of buying a new thing.

  5. theapocilip says:

    Tell me this video isn't just another view grab.

  6. ziqi92 says:

    I personally enjoy the resistance caused by the torque of a spinning fidget spinner

  7. Joseph Selvaraj says:

    I stopped this video midway to buy a fidget spinner, coz I wasn't able to concentrate on this long video..!! I'll come back to the video later.

  8. Blarghenschnarf says:


  9. Prometheus Is Cold says:

    all fidget spinners do is distract the students that could focus and give the students who couldn't a new distraction.

  10. ItsKoi says:

    I really hate this whole fidget spinner phase, because for so long stim toys had been stigmatized as unnecessary, a waste of time or a distraction for anyone who actually needed them. Then suddenly, people who don't even need these at all think stim toys are just a fun plaything to have because it's cool, and because of the sudden infamousy of them, they're getting banned in schools because of how much of a distraction they've become.

  11. Oswald Sweezlebogger says:

    As a person with ADHD, doodling or drawing usually helps with focus, though most people think I'm not paying attention to what they're saying, so I usually hold off during conversations.

  12. Macayla Cayton says:

    mind doing a video on the autism spectrum/asperger's?

  13. Aaron St. John says:

    I like this presenter.

  14. Endymion766 says:

    my fidget spinner just makes me mad that I now only have 1 hand to work with

  15. DJ says:

    Why not just fiddle with your pen, get good at making it spin around your thumb.. or draw little windows on your eraser and make it into a little space ship, then draw a space port on the margins of your page?
    Just look what fidget toys did to me, stay focused kids

  16. gui bin says:

    Just spin pens/pencils…geez…

  17. Victor Moyer says:

    when you speak of something like self stimulation, its extremely ridiculous to ignore autism, as most fidget/stim toys are made for autistic people

  18. Sonicgott says:

    If I didn't own an iPhone, I'd probably use a fidget spinner.

  19. Trynedge says:

    I just have one question for you….where did you get your shirt? :">

  20. yugij0319 says:

    I find these, out of nowhere fad's to be annoying. Because everyone gets obsessed with them for a while. Then they just wait for the next one. It's like one big bandwagon that everyone always jump's on.

  21. Dustin Rodriguez says:

    Has there been research done on societies propensity to, instead of waiting for research to be done on a newly introduced thing, immediately draw extremely negative conclusions about the thing while backing it up with nebulous claims like "there is no research showing they're NOT harmful"? I'm thinking not just of fidget spinners (with power-tripping teachers taking the opportunity to exert even MORE control over their students with absolutely no basis in reason… apparently controlling when or whether they speak, when or whether they may urinate or defecate, what they may wear, what they may do in their 'free' time outside school, who they may associate with, and a thousand other baseless petty oppressions) but also of how society has reacted to vaping.

    Research is finally coming out showing that, of course, second-hand vaping is absolutely and completely harmless, that vaping itself has risks equal to those of medically prescribed nebulizers, etc, but the vast majority of people were so very quick to jump on 'it might be less dangerous than smoking cigarettes, but there isn't any research showing it isn't tremendously dangerous so it probably is'. I have to believe this is somewhat new, because in the past we didn't have nearly as much ability or propensity to do such studies and yet new products were introduced all the time without people becoming intensely paranoid of them.

  22. Malgosia Milczewska says:

    With my anxiety I often fidget with my hands or bite my fingers which is weird. When I do that it looks weird and it clearly shows that I'm anxious and those things just boost that anxiety. Using fidget toys distracts my attention and reduces the feeling of looking like an idiot, at least just a bit. Maybe it's not proven to work with focus but I think this function of it pretty straightforward.

  23. Mekratrig says:

    What does that tatt say, "Legacy _"?

  24. Hope Lee says:

    I really wanna shove this in my teacher's face for telling off for doodling on class. Assholes never listened to me telling them it helped.

  25. Missing No says:

    I cured my ADHD through meditation.

  26. vajamas says:

    no need for a fidget spinner. brit's hair and tattoo were enough of a distraction.

  27. Idan B says:

    I have ADHD and manage with Ritalin, but I can't help but be unable to draw myself away from the distracting whirring of fidget spinner spread across the classroom.

  28. variansloth says:

    Teachers were always surprised I remembered things well in class because all I did was doodle so it's nice to hear it's a real thing which helped. Don't like the spinners and such personally but if it helps people all for it.

  29. gespilk says:

    Fidget Spinners are useful the same way sex dolls and vibrators are useful for some people.

  30. left for lionheart says:

    I see that Pizza John on the thumbnail

    you don't fool me

  31. Mara Henao says:


  32. HauntedShadowsLegacy says:

    Fidget spinners should not make noise. If they do, they're cheap and the ball bearings are terrible. Let's get that extra research done so we can either debunk the benefits or remove the 'toy' label.

  33. kdandsheela says:

    As an autistic person, visual stimulation helps me a lot. The fact that fidget spinners are motion, tactile, and visual, I can see them helping, but I would personally try my best to find one that's as silent as posible

  34. KorZenAudio says:


  35. H̴ꞁ̶̰̆ ❭ ❭ ❭_ says:

    XD I have ADD and I'll be damned if any of those stupid spinners do anything but distract me…

  36. zoe leigh says:

    i'm sorry but stimming? autism? ever heard of them? if you want to pose an argument about stim toys/tools then you probably should include the group of people who arguably rely on it the most.

  37. Ashmeed Mohammed says:

    Fidget spinners is just a weird way to sell bearings to people who would not normally buy bearings

  38. initialsCKN says:

    Can you please do an episode on the autism spectrum?

  39. MiniNara says:

    I had fidget spinners before they were cool and I was diagnosed with ADHD depression anxiety and dysgraphia I used them to fight anxiety depression and ADHD

  40. TheEmeraldBoat says:

    3:01 When I tried to use a stress ball in my 4th grade class, it exploded and sprayed the yeast stuff EVERYWHERE.

  41. GiulerPowerGamer says:

    Rasen Shuriken!!!

  42. Lillian Swaim says:

    Seeing as you have to focus on the spinner, how would it help you focus?
    I get distracted by the spinner, it's not helpful for me at all.
    Then again, placebo/ nocebo effect is there

  43. zetsumeinaito says:

    Back in the day we just to just rub a worry stone. Which was just a river rock lol.

  44. Alexandra Marks says:

    ADHD is on a different axis in the DSM as "mental illnesses"

  45. macsnafu says:

    I recently bought a couple of cheap fidget spinners just to see what the fuss is about. I rather like them as a way to keep my hands busy when I don't need my hands to do something else. The gyroscopic effect and the conservation of angular momentum also interested me. And finally, and this is where more research is needed (i.e. I need to get more fidget spinners), my first one is a bit noisy when it spins, but the second one was much quieter. This a don't understand because they're both the same brand, manufactured by the same company. I want to get a more expensive fidget spinner or three to see if they're better made in some way.

  46. Miss Amanda's world says:

    Cubes are more tactical though I wish had to smooth sides because of shape to have place to rest my finger just size of my hand to size of cube makes me need second smooth place. The cube does help. A spinner would totally distracted me because it's visual.

  47. Malfoygal says:

    I'm in uni and I find that fidget spinner helps me to begin concentrating when I don't feel motivated to study but decide to have at least one pomodoro session. I'm currently studying phonetics so my homework requires a lot of listening and only one hand to click 'next' on a mouse. Obviously it'll be impossible if you need to type a lot but for listening exercises, personally, I find them helpful.

    On the other hand, fidget spinners can be a distraction if you let it be. When I'm spinning it with my free hand, I'm not really looking at it or trying to perform any tricks etc. and am simply spinning it clock-wise, stopping it, spinning it counter-clock-wise, stopping it and so on. A child that's more interested at the spinner than their homework will most likely not benefit from the spinner at all.

    So, as long as it's just something you fidget with, it helps, but if you treat it like a toy and not a study aid, then you're better off without the spinner.

  48. Miss Placed says:

    So disappointed that there's no mention of ASD/stimming in the video at all, and is further narrowed by use for kids in the classroom (50% of kids with ADHD grow up to be adults with ADHD).

  49. Peaches Monroe says:

    I'm reeeeally getting tired of lack of research being the sole reason for rejecting theories. There are MILLIONS of things that will never, ever be researched. That doesn't mean that those theories are untrue…just untested.

  50. Sydney Bisono says:


  51. Joseph Oriente says:

    LIEING SACK O @$%[email protected]&#PA5t

  52. Joseph Oriente says:


  53. Dr. Gearswell says:

    Well the drawing in many ways is a form of recording information. It's good to take notes in classes becuase your brain now also has a visual record to go off of as well as audible record. I often find if someone is talking while I doodle whenever I look at that doodle I tend to think of that moment in time.

  54. Astrobunny Prod says:

    Teachers should let us doodle more. It is proven that it helps

  55. Morgan F says:

    Finally someone honestly discussing fidget spinners. For me fidget spinning keeps me from doing things that are more distracting.
    Its also HOW you use the thing. The balancing on the finger does seem very distracting but that's not at all how I use it.

  56. Alice Ignis says:

    I'm a teacher in Germany. Trends from the US come to us with a time delay. So, when my students started bringing the fidget spinners to school I already new them bc of YouTube. And I tell you: nearly ALL of them had one (not only those with adhs or so). They just wanted to annoy us. They even told me with a gleeish sparkle in their eyes, that they are "forbidden" in other schools. They only wated me to forbid them, too, so that they can debait with me and do it secretly etc…. But I just let them spin.
    After all I knew they would be gonne over summer-break. I was right. No fidget spinner any more. Once in a while I see one motionless in a pencil case – but that's it. Funny to see a trend come and go so fast.
    I only feel bad for the shops that followed the trend too slowly. When they finaly had packages full of them, no one wanted them anymore…

  57. Katherine Richardson says:

    for me having Asperger's Syndrome they are quite handy for focusing and they let my Brian take a mini break to recover between customers

  58. Justin Ruiz says:

    Dead meme

  59. fireface47347 says:

    Hello, I have adhd and I would like to ask how is adhd passed on.

  60. Buttons says:

    Personally, fidget toys have helped me calm myself down before a full-on anxiety attack (I have generalized anxiety disorder), but not spinners. My hands are a little too small to be able to spin them the way they were intended to be spun, but also I'm not really doing anything with it, plus fast moving things tend to stress me out more so looking at it would make the situation worse. I have a fidget cube I use outside of class (the buttons make a clacking sound and I don't wanna cause a disruption) and I usually keep coins or paper clips in my pockets to mess around with in class. It's a case-by-case basis for sure but certain things definitely help me, especially textured things and things that make a noise like a click or something. It isn't a cure by any means either, but it's almost like a coping mechanism.

  61. Saddam Hussain says:

    You know what increases focus? Methamphetamine lol

  62. ijustnoticediexisted says:

    It doesn’t matter. If it works for you,then use it.

  63. Justin Ruiz says:

    Figit Spinners…

    …are dead.

  64. Lewis Massie says:

    While she was talking about people needing extra stimulation to complete tasks I was organising the smarties I'm currently eating into groups by colour and frequency. The irony dawned on me

  65. First Name Last Name says:

    It horrible. I can't have any background nose when I'm studying or doing homework, but if there's complete silence because there is this horrible ringing in my ears. (Tinnitus???) I can't focus, and the only thing that helps me is drawing or doodling. So I have a whole different piece of paper beside me. This excludes computers. With computers I have to have something physical. So I us a pencil to twirl in fingers. I hate fidget spinners. But fidget cubes are ok.
    Edit: I can read for hours on end without complaint.

  66. Trine418 says:

    When I am at work and get a call I almost always doodle stuff. And often I don't realize what I doodle, but I have noticed that I often draw arrows for some reason.

  67. johnnyboy226 says:

    I'm surprised this vid didn't get a million views..

  68. Totallynot Apuffball says:

    Yeah, they might make you less fidgety, but as someone with ADHD, I'd like to say that there is a decent chance that I would just focus on how interesting the fidget toy is instead of paying attention to what I should be doing.

  69. Offtrailed Dino says:


  70. king james488 says:

    fidget spinners aren't stimulating enough if you actually have ADHD… I used to do origami in class.

  71. Sunny Panwar says:

    Science is never complete.. More research needed..

  72. Patrick McCurry says:

    When an infant, I would pretend to talk to someone down the hall where my mom couldn't see. She would get up to look, while I stopped, pretending not to know what she was doing. I would then laugh, and repeat. So the age of developing the theory of the mind varies significantly.

  73. 0mn1vore says:

    The part about different tasks not competing for brain-space was interesting. I find music very distracting while trying to read or write, but only if it has lyrics. Take out the linguistic component and it doesn't interfere with written language [instrumental or Rammstein, for example, which probably would bother me if I understood German].

  74. Matty Jeanson says:

    I get more satisfaction messing with my bracelets. Why get a fidget cube or anything when i can do the same with everyday things?

  75. Blur 410 says:

    but does vaping help you focus?

  76. Horner says:

    I have dyslexia, and I can guarantee you that a spinning plastic thing that emits sound is not helping me concentrate
    It does the opposite, since you know…I can quite "filther" background sounds

  77. Joseph Peters says:

    What about pain? Would a fidget spinner help with short burst of pain? Pain lasting 2-3 mins.

  78. HauntedShadowsLegacy says:

    Yo, if fidget spinners make noise, they need lube. Plain and simple. Also, fidget spinners are designed to be used with one hand, unlike that horrible PiP example you had where the person either faked not knowing how to use it (like those horribly exaggerated product commercials), or the person really had no idea how to use it. In which case, tell them how to use it.

  79. J Girl says:

    "Is it a tool or a toy?" That's the question I ask my students before I take it away. Most of the time, they're incredibly honest and we find a better replacement together if the fidget has become a toy

  80. John V4.2.1 says:

    I have A.D.H.D it was proven in a blood test

  81. Alastair Corsair says:

    They say it helps,…. So placebo effect much? Now doodling in the margins is cool and not as distracting to THE OTHER STUDENTS, anyway School isnt a place for smart people.

  82. Laggy Acer says:

    What happen to this world when the fidget spinner aliens come to invade our world???

  83. Clyde Cruz says:

    Did she just dab at 0:20?

  84. Upbeat_Garbage 030 says:

    Obviously it depends on the person but before my fidget spinner, I was an anxious shy mess and so one day just for the sake of it I got one and I spent a whole day out at the shops and it helped, I also listened to music but I talked and had many conversations with people. It was great. Work wise, listening to music always helps me focus and just listening class something like playdough can help me focus too also I’ll mention that you don’t need two hands to use a fidget spinner and it eventually becomes muscle memory so if you’re in class doing work you can still fidget and work at the same time

  85. Southern Gothic says:

    I whip out a fidget cube when I'm nervous in public and that usually helps

  86. kaicube says:

    I have GAD and these things have helped a lot, as well as helping my ADHD.

  87. Sarah Smith says:

    I'm an undergrad student with ADHD, and I find that fidget toys are most helpful in mitigating symptoms, like the video mentioned early on. For me, they're especially helpful when I'm taking tests, and with dermatillomania – the compulsion to pick at your own skin. I get that urge in a big way whenever I get especially anxious, and then if I start doing it in public I get even more anxious because I feel like other people find it gross. With fidget spinner, I have an outlet for that compulsion to do something repetitive and tactile, and then the further anxiety doesn't have a chance to happen.
    In my experience, that's the basic vein where fidget toys are helpful – when there are symptoms to mitigate. Neurotypical people generally don't get the appeal, which makes sense. Also, for me, spinners take too much thinking??? You've gotta balance the dang thing, and keep it going, and I find that that doesn't curb my fidget-energy – maybe I'm using them wrong ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  88. Sterling O'Deaghaidh says:

    The issue with ADHD is the aspect of its diversity, no 2 people are alike in this disorder so it's hard for such a item to really be affective across the board when it doesn't conform to the individual. I use a spinner my self and it works but so does music.

  89. KY Cha says:

    As far as the effect of doodling on memory is concerned, there was this idea that popped up in my mind before looking at the ideas of the researchers, and that is:
    Doing something that requires minimal attention and does not use the same mental process as the main task, like doodling when listening to voice message, activates the brain slightly more to receive and process incoming stimulation compared to doing the main task alone. It's like how preheating the oven would bake the cookies faster.

  90. Pei Sun says:

    Sort answer. No. (At least not in my class)

  91. Nicolai Veliki says:

    I'm notorious for jiggling and wiggling

  92. Sincerity Nature says:

    Fidget spinners are pretty useless as fidget toys, because you don't really have to fidget with them. You either spin them and they just….. go, or you just move it around, which doesn't provide much stimulation and it honestly distracting. Actual fidget toys that let you do small, rapid movements that don't require you to be paying attention to do them are the ones that I've found helpful, as someone with autism. Spinner rings and fidget cubes especially.

  93. Luna says:

    I have a little bit of Anxiety and a fidget spinner spinning in the middle of a test will make me want to scream and freak out because the littlest of constant noise will NOT help.

  94. Bethany Lade says:

    With ADHD being so common, surely there is more research in progress? Personal experience with our oldest son (who has ADHD) shows that the spinners are just toys. But something like squishing silly putty or a using a fidgit cube – requiring no visual attention – makes a lot more sense. Schools using things like this, or standing desks, or bicycle desks, etc are all reporting positive results. It may not be peer reviewed research yet, but it's still pretty convincing.

  95. Bass Fight says:

    Do we really need this to be an established thing? If a kid says they work better while fidgeting, let them fidget. As long as they're not disturbing anyone.. Same for headphones, hoodies… Whatever.

  96. Sylvano Ginnamio says:

    actually they do help me. when i spin it i can concentrate better than when i dont spin it. it also feels good in your hands so your hands react like they are doing the same as puttty, stress balls and squishys

  97. Bea Angelica Andersson says:

    Fidget cubes? Yes, very helpful. I can fidget while reading and spare my poor finger nails.
    Fidget spinners? Not at all – you barely even fidget with them (just spin them once and then hold them until they stop…), they make a lot of noise and are made to be mainly visually interesting which interferes with almost anything I could be doing. That's the opposite of what I want from a fidget toy.

  98. Crystal Pasztor says:

    I have ADHD and I HATE fidget spinners. They're loud (can't use it in my college class) I have small hands (can even hold it when its spinning) and it does take way too much attention. I like my knock-off fidget cube a lot better. It has the added bonus of having 6 sides so I never get bored doing the same thing over and over. And there are SO MANY BUTTONS.

  99. EloquentTroll says:

    Playing with a fidget spinner has been helpful for me in trying to avert panic attacks. It's not 100% effective, but it helps sometimes and I haven't had to use my clonazepam nearly as much since I found this tool.

  100. E d J says:

    they helped me stop smoking

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