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Silly Bandz: please leave them at home

"Silly bands are becoming a distraction in class so I'm asking everyone to please keep them at home," read the email from our first grader's teacher.  I, for one, am relieved.  Since our friends and family from out East introduced our kids to these souped-up rubber bands earlier this year, they have appeared on many a child's arm, in quantities amounting to a foot long.  Sarah wrote about them months ago, wondering: What will the fad end?

Indeed, they have become a distraction.  Even more troubling to me, they have become a currency of sorts. The cool have them.  Lots of them.  The little kids crowd around the ones with plenty, doing tricks or favors to score just one or two.  Kids trade them, this shape for that.  There are premium shapes, ones that are rarely found in the pack.  Spending some time with the first-grader's class recently,  I was surprised how omnipresent the bright-colored things are.

Do your kids have them?  (Where did you get them?  Because I have yet to actually purchase some.)  Do you find them to be distracting?  Or do you think this, too, shall pass?


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My 1st grader just bought some (with her own $, at New Seasons). I'm not liking how easily she loses them and then freaks out, but other than that I don't think it's a big deal. I can see why she (and everyone else) likes the cute shapes and colors, and I figure it's a fad that will pass. I'd rather the fad be cheap plastic bands than some really expensive clothing item that many people can't afford. Her teacher just banned the bands (hee hee) from the classroom due to distraction--sounds like a fine way to handle it to me; plenty of time after school to play with them.

Maybe I should have mentioned that the ones my daughter found at New Seasons were not brand-name Silly Bandz (but she didn't know the difference); $2 for 12.

I'm a 1st grade teacher and I've taken a handful away. The principal made a rule that they can't be traded at school. They really haven't been too much of a distraction because the students realize that if they become one I'll take them. Is that a mean old teacher thing to do? Seems to work.

My 4 year old got some for his birthday from some older cousins... he could care less about them. I guess I don't get it. What is the big deal about them? They are rubberbands!

I traded stickers at that age; there's always something. Let teachers do what they need to do, and let kids be kids.

I think they are a great tool to help children build good negotiating skills. "Yes I want two of your silly bands, but mine are multi colored so one of mine which is more unique is worth two if you want to do the trade." Learning to ask for what you want, negotiate and trade in a civilized manner is a wonderful skill. They are kids trading silly bands, but I see future lawyers, peace makers, politicians in the making.

Yet another fun thing schools take away from kids. And, really what a great way to learn about currency, frienship, and math. We wouldn't want them learning these things on the playground now would we? It's way too distracting to the teachers.

A friend who visited brought a package of Toy Story ones for my kids (my kids LOVE Toy Story). They split them evenly... and then lost them throughout the house =) My 3.5 year old daughter gave me one of her Bullseye ones, which I wear because it came from her.

When I heard this baby's heartbeat after 2 miscarriages, I got a package of baby themed ones for myself. Except they're so tiny that most don't fit me. I put a few on my key ring, wear a diaper pin one, and gave the rest to a friend who just had a baby... she uses them as nursing bracelets to remember which side is up first for the next feeding =)

How is this different from baseball trading cards or Pokeman cards from the 90s. If it isn't silly bandz, it will likely be something else...rocks, stones, etc. There is something about children of this age, wanting to trade - it is fascinating to watch the social skills which develop, or do not (in some children). I think that if we go back far enough, we will recall previous generations trading...
Personally, I'm glad that they are inexpensive enough - and some of them are even a bit open-ended - "what is that shape?"

My girls (5 and 4) had never seen them until a trip to NJ (we live in SoCal) in June. We were with friends at a water park and my 5-year old found one on the ground and had NO idea what it was. My girlfriend's girls (7 and 5) were stunned. The girls brought that one home. It's here somewhere. In September, the same friends came here and the four girls found another silly bandz on the ground in Hollywood. The four of them brought it home and eventually my children hung it from the pull switch on a lamp. And yesterday the 4-year old decided to cut it down! In half. I LOVE that they are not fascinated in the least.

I attended a school assembly at the elem where my older girl attends K and the principal decreed that they could be worn, but NOT played with. If a teacher finds them to be a distraction, he/she can take them away. Makes sense to me.

What's wrong with them? I dunno, maybe nothing. But I think: commercial, garbage, junk; assigned a value and used as a status symbol - gross; distraction to learning in the classrooms, bad news.

I'm sorry -- how do they teach friendship?

I'm in Michigan and while I saw them EVERYWHERE this summer I've barely seen any this school year. So at least in my area, they're on their way out. I see the attraction but if I got any for my 3 and 5 year old they would promptly get lost and then found in their little sister's mouth. No thanks.

I'm in NW FL and they are also everywhere here. Whether name brand or not, they are in every store where a parent would take a child. From Dollar Tree to Books A Million. I figure it's just another phase. "Collect them all" slogans seem to work quite well with kids. (trading cards, happy meal toys, etc.) Even adults enjoy collections. (novel series, etc.)
I like to fall back on my motto: "All things in moderation."

I saw a sign in the window of the "Dollar Scholar" on Hawthorne this morning saying Silly Bandz were in stock. I had no idea what that meant until just now. ;)

One of our cats loves to eat anything rubber, latex, silicone. Needless to say that my daughter, after finding a few Silly Bandz when she cleaned the litter box, has lost interest in them completely.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but I'm suspicious of consumer trends aimed at children. Yes, this one is small, cheap and innocuous, but it's just the beginning of our children's lives as consumers of cheap plastic crap made by unfair labor in factories with no emission controls or health standards for their workers or communities. This trend ensures that our kids won't have jobs when they grow up because we have voted with our dollars to export all manufacturing and then we got so accustomed to the ridiculously cheap prices that we can't imagine paying what something really costs (but of course someone is paying the cost of global warming and near-slave labor).

Come to think of it, it's a great opportunity to begin to educated our children about the power of their purchasing decisions. If you haven't already seen it (or not for a while), check out http://www.thestoryofstuff.com for a brilliant and fun explanation of how the global economy really works. If your child is a tween or teen, he or she would probably get a lot from this video too. It takes about 15 minutes to watch and leave time for a good discussion afterward!

My older 3 girls have them. They got them as gifts from a friend. Not terribly distracting but annoying nonetheless especially when a 3 year old starts screaming cus you vacuumed up fishy silly bandz.

My son got some as party favors and as a goodbye present. I think they are fun, and I'm with the posters who say they actually have some productive skill building and are really harmless. Use the breaking and lost ones as teachable moments. I'd rather my son were playing with these than transformers and star wars and play guns and swords. I'd further rather that he were concentrated on finding particularly beautiful rocks and sticks, but he does some of that and this is one concession to our consumer culture that I'm OK with. It's pretty natural to collect cool things, and people have been doing that for hundreds of years all of the world as they can. I'm also looking to teach my kids impermanence and creative thinking and to not be attached to things, but I don't mind a little materialism.

We recently had to ask for them to be left at home, at our preschool. They were a huge distraction, the encourage consumerism, and girls were using them to hurt other girl's feelings (the ones that had followed rules and left jewelry at home). I think they are a big waste of time and money. They generated a lot of hurt feelings in a very short time.

i have no clue what these are b/c i only have a preschooler.

still it reminded me of the slap bracelets fad! anyone remember this? same thing, it was distracting to the teachers.

These hit my son's school at the beginning of the year. All of the 2nd grade teachers banned them in the classroom due to distraction, which is just fine with me. I don't get too worked up about them because if my son wants them, he has to buy them with his own money and then later if he wants something else, I remind him that he could have had that Lego set, Nerf thing, other toy, etc if he hadn't spent his money on SBs. As others have said, when I was a kid we traded stickers, animal erasers, and trading cards. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Pick your battles, people. It's a fad, it'll pass, and some other fad will take its place. Do we really need to overthink *everything*?!

i haven't thought much about the pros of developing negotiating skills or the cons of consumerism, really. but i'll always support the teacher in banning something from the classroom if it's a distraction. if i had to keep 25+ kids moving in (generally) the same direction and learning new things, i'd want the option of controlling what superfluous things came into the classroom. fair enough.

Oops -- I guess I did a mama faux pas, giving out silly bands AND slap bracelets in goodie bags at a birthday party. Oh well -- it could've been worse. It could've been garbage pail kids!!! :-D

My 4th grade daughter mentioned them at bedtime the other night (we have none) and basically said kids have them at school, she doesn't see why they are fun, they're just colored rubber bands that break a lot, and wasteful plastic. As a parent, I feel pretty good that she sees a fad for what it is, and doesn't want something that is going to turn into trash soon, just because her peers have them.

Mamasita, I with you all the way on consumer trends aimed at children and cheap crap. Well, maybe not quite all the way--I guess I like that at least silly bandz are tiny, implying a tinier ecological footprint, at least. And I like that they are actually a well-designed and innovative idea. I'm just saying. And there isn't a cartoon that markets them (to my knowledge.)

Wow,mamsita, you should lighten up a little :) i get what you're saying but that's a little extreme...

I have seen them around, and was a bit surprised when my 4 year old mentioned that several girls in her class had them. She was curious...so I picked up a pack in the dollar bins at Target and slipped one in her lunch one day. She was tickled by that...and every so often she'll play with one. And one will break. It's not a focus at all, but I didn't feel bad about buying them as 1) they are CHEAP, and 2) they are not licensed characters/more Disney/Pixar/etc. which I am really starting to loathe. Talk about over-marketing to kids!

We all have to remember being kids--I totally traded stickers, and those plastic charms that hooked onto charm necklaces! At least these Bandz things are inexpensive. I remember when the fad was to bring your Cabbage Patch doll to school. (To school!!) Talk about an obvious demarcation between the haves and the have-nots.

All that being said, I support teachers banning them from the classroom if they at all become a distraction. AND I am not against letting kids explore "silly" fads.

These are all the rage at my 12yo's middle school this year. Maybe because he's a boy, and a middle-schooler versus elementary schooler, but he is not hyper-concerned with them. He takes a little ceremonial time in the morning to put them on, trades them with friends, and even shares them with me. I like them too.

Middle school is such an important time for childrens' developing social sophistication. I was homeschooled in isolation when I was growing up and it has been so wondrous watching my child go through the public school system. I love watching the ways these kids interact and the tools they use to develop their negotiating and communicating skills. I love knowing that my son is savvy in communicating with people of his generation and mine; this is a skill you can't buy, you just have to immerse.

Kids definitely have some compulsive behavior towards these; kids have compulsive behaviors towards everything, this is how they learn how to delay gratification. What I am hoping is that these don't go the route of Beanie Babies, with hordes of QVC-ers lining up around stores and blowing up phone lines to get *small stuffed animals*. As ridiculous as it is for kids to be crazy and hyper-reactive around their "stuff", it is so much more disturbing to see 50yo women slapping each other in the face and running up credit cards for handheld stuffed toys.

after much thought about this trend and some immersion in it when I was asked to write a piece about the product for Daily Finance, I can't find a thing positive about them, other than the fact that (as Camellia and others say), they're small, and cheap, and not tied to a TV show. but I can't imagine what useful things we could be teaching our children with them that couldn't equally well be done without spending money to buy something made in another developing nation (where it's almost certain labor standards and environmental cost of production are higher than I'd like, and externalized). developing communication tools and negotiating skills could happen, sure -- but couldn't that also happen with a collection of rocks they'd found, or little beads they'd made, or something less commercial? I'm not saying they're evil, but it surely doesn't HAVE to be the silly bandz.

kids are going to trade stuff, but I've told my kids I won't buy this particular thing (although I will buy Pokemon cards, because honestly, I love the complex world with its taxonomy and creation myths and iconography).

as for kids getting in trouble for bringing things to school, i seem to be breaking new ground here. yesterday truman got in trouble for bringing a blue clay bead he called a "marble" and used in the marble toy (one of those things with channels and holes and tubes and such). "it caused a HUGE problem!" said his teacher, telling me, "no more bringing marbles to school!" as if I should have KNOWN this would happen. (she was probably just stressed, but her disapproval was evident). until i found it for him in the bottom of the kindergarten toy bin, i had no idea what anyone was talking about.

next week, i'll bet anything one of my kids gets in trouble for bringing a cool rock to school.

My son is obsessed with them and trades them and gives them away often. I bought him a couple of packs and now he has to buy his own if he wants more. I don't really see the harm, and it's interesting to see kids swapping them. For a shy kid like my son, it's a good entry point into a conversation with kids he doesn't know. He'll get sick of them soon enough, like all of the other things he just had to have. For now, it seems pretty innocuous.

I think toys should not be brought to school, period.

And on the plastics and commercialism issue, I basically feel that I haven't completely eliminated the consumption of plastics, imports, and mass-produced goods from my life, though I do very much try to restrict them. Until I do so, I can't see taking a strong stand against something like Silly Bandz. If it meant a lot to my kid, I would buy them for him here and there, since I still consume a much larger volume of plastics each month buying groceries. I bring my own bags most of the time, buy mostly whole foods and bulk items, but I haven't gotten it together yet to provide all my own containers and thus wind up taking various plastic bags from the store. I don't like it, but there it is. It makes me sad to think of them winding up in a whales stomach somewhere and that's a bigger issue to me than a pack of rubber bands. Sometimes, I think we tend to require higher adherence to our ideals of our children than of ourselves. I often see parents forbid children to play with the light switch so as not to waste resources, but how much electricity is actually wasted when a child plays with the light switch for five minutes? More than when we watch a movie or browse the Internet recreationally? Same with playing with the faucet. Sometimes I linger longer in the shower than I absolutely need to, or take a hot bath for the pleasure of it and not because I'm really dirty. I want to teach my child not to waste resources, but I think it must be commensurate to my standards for my on consumption for the message to be meaningful.

I definitely think this too shall pass...

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