The current craze for kids – Rainbow Loom bands and their many knockoffs – has been surprising parents and child development experts since it broke out last summer and fall: In a market glutted with crafts marketed to girls, loom bands are the rare gender-neutral hobby that appeals to boys, too.
Why are they so popular?
“There’s a sense of accomplishment” that comes with finishing a bracelet, Tricia Ross says, and it’s enough to inspire her son to “sit there until it’s complete.” He’s begun taking orders for bracelets from his younger sister, cranking them out in the styles and color schemes she requests.
Loom bands are popular among kids age 7 to 12, a key time for developing many of the skills that weaving crafts can teach.
“Right around age 7, you see fine motor skills taking off,” says Cynthia Edwards, professor of psychology at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. “Anything that helps them to use those hands together, left and right, helps to develop those areas of the brain and the muscles themselves. ”
Kids in this age group are also developing “executive function,” the ability to plan and execute tasks, Edwards says. With loom band weaving, kids must choose what to create, pick a color scheme and style of weaving, gather the materials and then do the necessary weaving steps in the right order.
Loom bands also seem to fit kids’ mobile lives: “They’re portable and wearable,” Edwards says, so younger kids can make them “in the backseat of a car waiting for one of their siblings to get out of ball practice.”
And they don’t involve a screen.
So, yes, it’s a fad. And yes, parents all over the country are getting tired of finding tiny rubber bands on their floors and in their washing machines.
But few are really complaining.
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