Fidget Spinners help ease anxiety, increase concentration in classroom

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- They may have been around for nearly 20 years, but Fidget Spinners have just recently exploded in popularity for kids.

"It`s like the stress ball but without the carpal tunnel."

Local stores can't keep them in stock.

"You just spin them on your finger, or just spin them on the table and watch them spin."

The original creator called it a stress reliever and that is the idea behind them. The manufacturers claim the spinners have a calming effect.

"They can take that spinner and spin it on their hand and sit there and balance it. They don't even pay attention to it. They pay attention to what you are talking about. They just use both their brain equally," said parent Jasen Tedlock.

Toys like the Fidget Spinner have been used in special needs classrooms for years to help calm and stimulate students with disorders like autism.

"It helps kids focused in the classroom," said Jeremy Whitley with Sensory World. "It enhances concentration and relieves anxiety."

Whitley and his brother, Justin Gibbs, own Sensory World. They are former special education teachers who decided to start a toy store focused on things for people with special needs.

"I came out of the classroom in special needs, by opening the store. It's a huge feeling to help kids with disabilities and help them in a classroom setting or just in general."

Mental health experts said mindlessly playing with things like this while thinking can help students concentrate better while also being soothing.

"Whether it is for their child or their husband, it helps in a classroom setting or in an office setting. Anywhere you take this device you will be calm."

However, as the gadgets increase in popularity, educators in some schools have deemed them to be a distraction. In some cases, they've been banned altogether from the classroom.

Despite the debate over the popular toy, experts say they do have their benefits.

"When you are nervous you either tap or you chew gum or something like this. This will give you that sensation to help that anxiety away and get through those obstacles you need to get through in a classroom setting."