3 MIN READ | Family & Relationship

Ellen Diamond

Improving Focus and Concentration with Fidget Toys: How Do They Work?

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Ellen Diamond, (2022, November 14). Improving Focus and Concentration with Fidget Toys: How Do They Work?. Psychreg on Family & Relationship. https://www.psychreg.org/improving-focus-concentration-fidget-toys-how-do-they-work/
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Fidgeting is a part of human behaviour that involves unnecessary movements or anything considered non-essential in ongoing tasks or events. Usually, these movements are rhythmic and can cause psychological comfort or relaxation to the person doing them, while other people acknowledge them as a sign of discomfort or nervousness. 

Common causes of fidgeting

Some of the causes attributed to fidgeting may include nervousness, especially in a social setting, frustration over something, and a need for release from boredom or excitement. It can also be caused by psychological problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, autism, and anxiety. However, fidgeting is not considered a significant factor in diagnosing these, as the behaviour is common among human beings when subjected to certain situations. 

It’s considered a subconscious act when a person’s mind spontaneously wanders, and things like worry stones can help them with these problems. Genetics may also be a factor involved in a person’s fidgeting. Some people are more inclined to fidget than others, which can also be attributed to physical causes such as hyperthyroidism. This condition can cause someone to be easily agitated and fidget to compensate for it.

What are fidget toys and how do they work?

Several items or toys can help with fidgeting. They’re designed to relieve someone’s urge to do repetitive, unnecessary movements, as they’re specific items that a person can indefinitely fiddle with without any significant results or effects afterwards. 

These items can be everyday things found at a home or come with texture and sound, satisfying one’s craving for these unnecessary movements. Playing with these toys allows people to calm their nerves and relieve stress.

How fidget toys can help improve someone’s focus

While they primarily help with fidgeting and other anxious behaviours, research has shown that fidget toys, such as amethyst stones, can also be strongly associated with improving a person’s concentration. These objects allow them to perform and focus better on memory-involved tasks.

Two chemicals or neurotransmitters in the brain – dopamine and norepinephrine – are responsible for a person’s ability to focus. Dopamine involves attention span, concentration, motivation, and pleasure. On the other hand, norepinephrine affects alertness. 

Studies have suggested that non-essential physical activities, such as fidgeting, are directly related to increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters in a person’s brain. As a result, the person is able to focus better on a task.

Types of fidget toys

There are many types of fidget toys available for everyone, with different purposes and things that they mimic. They come with features that can stimulate other senses, including visual, tactile, or auditory. 

Some of the most common fidget toys are the following:

  • Fidget spinners. A toy with a ball bearing in the middle of a flat structure, endlessly spinning along its axis, fidget spinners once took the toy market by storm. Variations of the toy emerged later on, with flashing lights, colours, sounds, and textures added. Children loved the toy, as they wanted something they could fidget with and fit in their pockets. While the widespread interest in the toy faded over time, it’s still a popular fidget toy among those who need relief from stressful situations. 
  • Stress balls. Stress balls are small, handheld balls usually made from foam, gel, rubber, or plastic. They can be squished repeatedly, relieving the user and releasing emotions. They’re commonly used by adults and are a popular fidget outlet for those subjected to stressful situations. For children, these can come with sounds or colours, which may appear once they’re squished.
  • Slime. Another popular toy trend that took the Internet by storm is slime – soft, sticky goo that can be moulded and played with hands. It can be made of simple mixtures, such as glue, rubber, and synthetic polymers. Slime’s viscosity can change depending on the amount of force or pressure applied to it when it’s played. It’s one of the most popular fidget toys, as many features can be incorporated into it, such as colours, glitters, or other textures. 
  • Chewable pendants or straws. Aside from fidget toys played with hands, other objects such as chewable pendants or straws are also available for those who need stimulation by chewing. These toys can be made from silicon, rubber, or polymers, which the person can chew to relieve feelings of nervousness.  All the same, these toys must undergo strict quality control first to ensure that the materials and paints used are non-toxic and not choking hazards.

Takeaway

Fidgeting is an activity done by some as a form of emotional release, and many toys can help someone with this. These include fidget spinners, stress balls, slime, and chewable pendants or straws, some of which may also stimulate someone’s tactile, visual, or auditory senses. For some people, fidget toys can also function as tools for focusing better.


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.


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