Right of Reply: Mike Mawson

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The Independent Culture
The owner of a

Yo-Yo shop answers Ann Treneman's criticism of the toy

IF YOUR children have taken to shutting themselves away for hours at a time and there are peculiar whirring and humming noises emanating from their bedrooms, do not panic; they are probably just working on their "Brains".

The current Yo-Yo craze that is sweeping the nation may be largely explained by the invention of the ingenious "Brain" Yo-Yo. A built in "clutch" allows the Yo-Yo to "sleep" (spin at the bottom of the string), then return automatically, and has introduced Yo-Yo-ing to today's technically sophisticated children.

Many, like your writer Ann Treneman, may feel this resurgence "an irritation of modern life". However, unlike many former crazes such as cyberpets (where the only bonus was that the battery would eventually run out), Yo-Yo-ing has many benefits.

Yo-Yo-ing is not an immediate skill that can be acquired by inserting a battery or pressing a button; it requires practice, patience and determination. A nationwide award scheme called "Tricknology" was launched this summer, with the aim of taking spinners to different levels of attainment. Badges from bronze through to platinum reward hard work and help to develop a healthy sense of competition. This is a far more sociable activity than being a solitary "mouse potato".

It would appear that the computer games console may be temporarily "sleeping", as well as hundreds and thousands of Yo-Yos nationwide.

Yo-Yos are also inexpensive in comparison with other children's toys. The contents of many a piggy bank have been emptied on my shop counter in time-honoured tradition. Status is gained not from the price of the toys, but by the skill of the user.

So if your only irritation lies in the fact that the Yo-Yo can be a potential hazard in the home, then hide the breakables, ensure that the cats are let out into the garden, and make sure that your young spinners are aware of Yo-Yo safety (ask your local Yo-Yo supplier). You may find that your children are acquiring skills that we constantly bemoan they are lacking.

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