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Articles > Mental Health May, 17, 2017

Rise of the Fidget Toy: Helpful Gadget or Dumb Distraction?

Harry Thompson
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6.14 / 10

Now, let’s be honest, if you haven’t succumbed to the temptation of buying a ‘fidget’ item yet, you must at least know a few people who have. From cubes to spinners to a plethora of textile toys, this year has seen a surge in the appearance of cheap and quirky playthings labelled “fidget toys”. But where did it all come from, and why are they so popular? Few people know the true story behind them, so I’m here to reveal all.


fidget spinner craze

This craze is spinning out of control…

In August 2016, a Kickstarter page for the creators of ‘the fidget cube’ was created. Its goal was to raise a mere $15,000, however the public were clearly more eager than expected to get their hands on a fidget cube, and the pledged amount reached a staggering $6 million – now that’s the kind of figure that really sparks the interest of any entrepreneurial inventor!

Very soon after, the fidget spinner emerged. The idea came from a woman in Australia named Catherine Hettinger, and you might be thinking “She must be raking the money in!”, but unfortunately for Catherine, she did not see the financial reward she may have hoped for from this neat little gadget…

Not long after her license for her “Classic Fidget Spinner Spinning De-stressor Finger Toy” expired in early 2016, companies such as Hasbro were left free to release their own (and incredibly similar) versions of the product. Although Catherine is adamant she is not upset about missing out on a potentially very lucrative creation, it is hard not to feel sympathy for the woman who had her near 30-year creation stolen from her in what could be described as straight up theft.

So, what was the initial aim of all of these creations, you may ask?

It’s well known that most of these products are advertised as devices created to help those with anxiety, ADHD or autism. The toys are designed to provide ‘sensory stimulation’ for those in need, providing an outlet for those who need to ‘fidget’ and allowing their brains to focus on the task at hand.

However, considering the toys have reached a much wider audience than initially planned, there have been many disputes as to how effective these gadgets are at achieving this goal. For example, an article published by the Independent states – and is titled – “fidget spinners do not help those with ADHD, experts say”. However, an article by the metro argues that, although they may not be the solution for all anxiety/ADHD disorders, they can play a significant role in providing help for sufferers.

The most prevalent battleground for this argument is found within school classrooms, with many teachers opting for a complete ban of all fidget items, claiming they are a major distraction from learning. Although it is hard to discredit this argument, many sufferers and parents have plead that in the case of children affected by mental disorders, fidget toys’ good outweighs the bad and can actually aid a child’s concentration.

At any rate, with popularity of fidget toys still on the rise, the design and production of new ‘fidget’ items is spinning out of control. Already the market’s seen the arrival of Mokuru and infinity cubes, with even more being added to the list within 2017. So, what do you think? Is it ridiculous seeing teens walking around with these toys? Should they be allowed in schools? Do you think this rise is good or bad? With no end in sight, it seems these fidget toys will have all of our heads spinning for a long time to come.

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  1. Kelly Brazd

    Firstly, I would just like to say that this was a well-written and intriguing article. Now, as for my opinion on the spinners, I do support them because they diffuse attention to make it easier to listen to what is going on in class. So many kids are trying to pay attention to boring subjects they don’t have interest in, and they are prone to fail, perhaps by falling asleep on the desk. Fidgeting with something keeps them awake and diffuses their attention so that they can listen to the teacher while they play and be just active enough with their little toy to be engaged. However, these toys should be made simple, not so bright and flashy, because they could be distracting others around the fidgeter, mesmerizing them with moving color. That is a real issue. Aside from that, though, fidget spinner do no harm to and can even help students attention.

  2. cxlls

    It’s not a distraction. It’s good for some people to get their minds off of things and a way of stress relief.

  3. Elly

    It’s a shame this has been used as a dumb trend and thing to make fun of, this was intended for the use of people with ADD(HD) and autism and for people to use it as a meme makes kids with these difficulties, easy targets for being teased.

    It has also had kids who don’t have these issues get them confiscated so when someone comes along who really needs it, the teachers won’t believe it

  4. Emily

    As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression i think fidget spinners are a great way to take your mind away from the troubles, it helps you focus on something thats ‘moving forward’ and i think that really helps someone like me get through a panic/anxiety attack

  5. Ayesha

    These are a fab way of supporting the needs of individuals with ADHD and other conditions
    However, it is making the reason behind these being produced horrendous because they are getting portrayed differently.