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Are fidget spinners helpful or distracting in the classroom?

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- They are the hot new toys on the market.

Customers could not enter the Toys & Co. store at Friendly Center without first passing the sign that read “We Have Fidget Spinners!”

“[It] has just taken off like we couldn’t even believe,” store manager Matt Peel said.

The spinners are even showing up in Dr. Emily Thompson’s office.

“I would say in the past two weeks has been when I’ve seen more of them in my office, and probably today I’ve seen about two or three different kids with them physically in their hands,” Thompson said.

Thompson has a background in pediatric medicine and currently works with children who have ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and other learning challenges at Carolina Attention Specialists in Greensboro.

In some instances, the gadget is being promoted as a way to help people with anxiety, ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD and autism.

Now that the toys are steadily growing in popularity, there is a debate as to whether they can help or hinder learning in the classroom.

“The concept is not a bad idea, but probably the method of using that may not [always be] the most beneficial,” Thompson said.

She advises that parents remain mindful of where children use fidget spinners – emphasizing there is a difference between using one at home and having one at school.

“It may make [it] difficult to write and also it may become more of a distraction either to that child or to the other children in the classroom if it becomes a little bit more entertaining,” Thompson said.

Thompson said other alternatives could include using Bouncy Bands which connect to the legs of a child’s seat.

The child can move his or her feet on the band and still write.

Other suggestions Thompson recommends are stretch breaks and walking breaks after about 20 minutes of sitting during academic learning.

There have been reports of schools in other parts of the country banning fidget spinners.

We contacted Piedmont school districts including Guilford County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and Randolph County for information on where they stand in terms of policy.

However, the spokespeople for these school districts were unable to reach the appropriate contacts for a comment Monday.