For me it happened overnight. The night before I saw the video of a father posting about his daughter’s joy on getting the “latest gadget”, the Fidget Spinners. The next morning, there were 4 kids at the bus stop spinning them. When I asked why were they taking toys to school, the response was, “They are allowed!”
Not knowing what to make of them, I took to Facebook and asked, ” Yay or Nay” and most parents said, Yay! No one had an answer for why though. Except a parent of a child on the autism spectrum who truly witnessed their child benefitting from the use.
A week later though, reports of the same being banned and teachers’ requests to please keep the toys limited to recess or better yet home started pouring in. Psychologists started coming out saying, there is no substantial proof to the claims that the fidget spinners improve focus at all!
This phenomenon is not new. We saw the same with Pokemon, Hatchimals, Tickle Elmo etc. A new toy comes into the market, with a cool gimmick attached to it. In this case, “helping kids focus” and before you know it herd mentality of trying the “new thing” and over use causes the same to become a nuisance.
There’s always a thin line dividing the appropriate and the inappropriate. There seems to be an inherent loss of awareness of where that line is among the current generation. Humans are attracted to constant instant gratification, which can easily make things go out of control.
Nurturing a basic instinct of responsibility is paramount for success in life and that doesn’t just apply to games!
The crux is to recognize that simple rules or actions like the ones below instill the importance of moderation and self control.
Avoiding Peer Pressure
Sure, all the kids are getting them. But is your child asking for them? Mine didn’t. He said, ” It just spins. ” When we as parents get onto the band wagon of the latest trend just because others are doing it, we subconsciously teach the kids that it’s okay to follow. When in fact, we need to create thought leaders. Lead by example that it is okay to be different and have different choices than those around you, even your friends.
Understanding The Trend
What was interesting to note though was that even parents were actively discussing with 5-10 year olds on whose fidget spinner was the best and why. While I am totally in for parents being in the know about what is “cool” to the kids these days, I draw the line at getting pulled into the wave of blind fascination and needless competition that goes along with it.
If you as parent feel any latest fad would be useful for your child, discuss the same with them. Explain why they personally are getting the toy/gadget. What need of theirs is it fulfilling? This helps them understand what trend to follow and what to leave behind.
Establish Rules of Use
Teaching kids a key skill of doing things in moderation is important. By this I refer to the fact that when I asked kids why they were taking toys to school, most answered. ” They are allowed. ” Even if something is allowed in school, we as parents need to ensure that the children have limited use of the said item. The rules of use can be as simple as –
- Do not use the gadget while in school.
- Do not play with the video game more than x minutes at a time.
Defiance Need Not Be Rewarded
You don’t want to say yes but they throw a tantrum and say, ” Everyone has it! ” Saying no and hearing them cry, while frustrating is good for their resilience.
Yes, it is embarrassing and makes us hot in our face to have them throw a tantrum specially in the middle of a store. Brave through it because every other parent around you understands and the kids get a lesson by association. They learn that it is not the end of the world if they do not get in on a trend.
What To Spend Money On
Children understand much more than we give them credit for. It may seem they are too young for it, but understanding the Why of what you as a parent are willing to spend money on gets them thinking of the importance of spending in the right place, at the right time. It’s not about the amount but the use of the item bought.
Make Them World Conscious
Make your children world wary. Share with them trends and stories from around the world. Discuss with them the dangers and positive outcome of each internet challenge, latest gadget, new fad etc. This gets their thinking gears moving and makes them aware of moral values, real world consequences and gives them a good directional thinking.
Every chance you get. Reading to them. Telling them about your childhood experiences even helps.
Getting Bored Is Okay
How often have you said or heard, ” They played more with the box than the toy that came with it.” ?
Let them think of ways to entertain themselves. Lots of time for free play, supervised and unsupervised. Unstructured play allows them to know how to keep themselves safe while keeping themselves entertained.
My favorite story was that of a child who starting making and selling his own Fidget Spinners when he couldn’t find where to buy them! To my immense pride (and relief) my own son never asked for one, but wondering about the use eventually tried and succeeding in making the same from Legos.
Games, toys and trends have their own place in our social and mental growth but doing anything blindly, just because everyone else is doing it sends the wrong message to the youth. We need to nurture them to be self reliant in understanding core values of moderation and self control!