Fidget spinners. They look like a mini version of helicopter blades. Each has a bearing in the centre that you hold while you spin the three prongs surrounding it. And they’re now the IT toy so kids everywhere are obsessing over them. If you’re late to the party, here’s a quick rundown of the debate over these polarising playthings.
1. They give your hands something to do, and you can show off with them.
Kids from the 90s may remember twirling pens in class; fidget spinners operate off the same principle, except you spin the three prongs around the centre bearing instead. There are even YouTube videos teaching tricks, including spinning one on the tip of your finger and tossing it from side to side – just to start. Naturally, this appeals to kids’ competitive natures.
2. They come in a huge variety of shapes, styles and colours.
Metal or plastic, light-up LEDs or glow in the dark, Naruto or Justice League – you can get them in almost any style imaginable, which might be why they’re so highly collectible. Many toy and curio stores in the major shopping malls carry them now, or if not you can always order one online from Lazada and similar e-commerce sites. Be wary of super cheap spinners: poorly made ones may not be well-balanced and might end up not spinning properly at best, or randomly flying off and hitting people at worst.
3. They may be useful for ADD, ADHD, anxiety and autism, but they can also be distracting.
Fidget spinners are commonly marketed as a way to help people cope with ADD, ADHD, anxiety and autism because they’re said to help sufferers concentrate, but scientists say these claims may be exaggerated. However, others claim that they can be helpful when used to complement other treatments.
4. No, really. They’re so distracting schools have banned them.
Can you imagine trying to teach and seeing kids spinning those things in class, trying to do tricks with them and dropping them or accidentally hitting other people with them? It’s no wonder that schools have started banning them. Leave them at home, kids (and some adults!).
5. It isn’t clear who created them.
Many sources attribute the device’s creation to chemical engineer Catherine Hettinger, who reportedly devised a toy to play with her daughter in 1993 when she was coping with an autoimmune disorder that resulted in muscle weakness. However, her patent lapsed in 2005 and many dispute any similarity between her invention and the fidget spinner’s current incarnation.