I removed the Netflix app after I caught my 6 yr old watching Family Guy. It was replaced with YouTube Kids. And I was excited about it. Lots of educational content. Animals, food, space, culture. All good things. But then I would be asked for this new device, a fidget spinner. “Dad,” he would say, “these things help you concentrate.” And I would respond, “Yeah, concentrate on spinning it and nothing else.” And he would give me all these statistics and facts about why they were great and why he had to have one. Selling me hard. He was going full Glengarry Glen Ross on me, so I looked at his YouTube history. Sure enough, lots of fidget spinner videos. This was pure marketing. Beyond tips and tricks, the people in the videos were reinforcing the amazing need to have this toy. About the same time, I get a note from his school. No fidget spinners allowed. So I’m convinced that he won’t have one. He stopped asking.
A few days later, I saw a video on YouTube about the Rubik’s Cube. I was my son’s age when I got one. And I remember how badly I needed it. So I found a fidget spinner and presented it. He, of course, lit up, and went immediately to trying all the tricks he saw on YouTube. Our world is not on constant stimulation overdrive. We can’t wait a week between TV episodes and binge watch them. Every screen is super-density, high-definition, bazillion colors. We are helpless on what to do when not tuned in. Even the hot toys of last Christmas season were connected. I do wish the fidget spinner had the educational value of the Rubik’s Cube, but for now I’ll hope that this ushers in a new area of unconnected toys that keep little minds charged up.
If you are looking for some fidget toys, check out this list: https://www.buzzfeed.com/jeffbarron/products-thatll-keep-your-hands-busy
—James Rice, Digital Experience