Spinning Fidget Toys: America’s New Favorite Pastime?

fidget spinnersGrowing in popularity by late 2016, and hitting America by storm in 2017, these amazingly simple handheld toys are a top choice for children and adults of all ages. They don’t do anything more than rotate rapidly, but the whirling action is one that easily captivates almost anyone. The satisfying movement is surprisingly fun, but many people find that the therapeutic benefits easily outweigh the amusement factor.

Children seem to be attracted to the bright colors, flashing lights and shiny finishes, while adults seem to prefer certain models due to a specific shape, material, or upgraded feature. Thanks to the endless fun offered and wide variety of styles, most users will probably end up with a collection of these portable and affordable time wasters.

With so much attention, so much innovation, and so much fun, the fidgeting craze is hard to ignore. There are new designs, new tricks, and new videos that come out daily to showcase this incredible trend, so one has to wonder if this is just another flash-in-the-pan fad, or will fidget spinning become America’s new favorite sport, toy, or whatever.

Only time will tell how long interest in hand spinners will last, but if you’re just learning about them, and you want to know more, keep reading to find out everything there is to know about this silly little device.

What Are They

Usually referred to as fidget spinners or hand spinners, these twirling every day carry toys make up just one variety of fidget toy, but they may be the most popular. Although they’re often marketed as ADD/ADHD EDC Toys, information suggests that they weren’t actually designed for this use, and usage proves that they’re fun and/or useful for just about anyone. They do seem to relieve stress, improve concentration, or eliminate anxiety in certain situations, but they’re also perfect for just having fun, or wasting time.

You can find them in a variety of shapes, and with a wide range of features, but they all have one thing in common: a central bearing, and multiple arms, or a solid body that rotate around it. They don’t require batteries to operate, but good quality spinners will turn at high speeds with a gentle flick by the user, and they will continue spinning for two minutes or more. Weights at the tips of the arms increase the speed at which the device spins, but they also provide balance to ensure smooth rotations without any wobble.

fidget spinners The main toy will be made from metal or plastic, and the bearings are usually steel or chrome, but upgraded models might feature ceramic bearings instead. Switching the material for the bearings, races, or cages can alter the sensory feedback provided by the toy by increasing or decreasing noise, vibration, speed, or spin time. A bi-arm or tri-arm design is usually considered classic as far as styling goes, but you can also find models with four or six arms, and even ones with solid frames, wheels, and other shapes that rotate around the center. While most models are pretty simple, some advanced versions have integrated lights, moving gears, Bluetooth connectivity and other cool stuff.

The History

Although they seem brand new, several sources agree that the original spinning fidget toy was invented and patented, back in 1993, by a woman named Catherine Hettinger. She doesn’t actually make or sell them right now, and she has no current patent on the toy, but there are multiple stories involving her creating a similar toy to either compensate for a physical disability, or help a child deal with a stressful situation. Although Catherine doesn’t insist on ownership of the idea, many people seem to point to her as the originator, despite the difference in her design and what we see as modern day fidget spinners.

The popular designs that are fueling the craze today are more similar to the patent pending product dubbed the “Torqbar” that was invented by Scott McCoskery in 2014 to help him cope with certain aspects of his job and workplace. It has bi-arm configuration, metal construction, and a bearing set at the center to make it spin. Catherine’s sounds like it is conceptually the same thing, but if you go by looks alone, many people might find it easier to make the connection with products like Scottt’s when searching for the origin of the wide range of spinning fidget toys available today. More History

How to use one

The central bearing is covered on both sides by a cap. The user will hold the spinner in their hand with finger and thumb, and then rotate the toy by flicking with the other hand, or with a finger on the same hand. The caps will remain gripped and stationary in the middle, and the rest of the toy will twirl around endlessly. The toy can also lay flat on any hard surface that is level, so you can spin them on tables, desks, and other stuff as well. One quick push will cause the outer body to spin quickly, and it should continue to rotate around effortlessly for a long period. Because they’re hand-held and pocket size, they can be used discretely, but because they’re so versatile, they also lend themselves to showing off with tricks and acrobatics too.

Watch Some In Action

Why Use One

The obvious reason is to have fun, or kill time, but as we stated above, many users buy these devices for the therapeutic benefits. Not only amusing for little kids or distracting for bored adults, fidget spinners can actually help you reduce stress, eliminate bad habits, concentrate on important tasks, and more.

ADD/ADHD/Autism

They’re marketed to those with ADHD and autism for a reason, and that’s because they do work in many cases. Instead of drifting of, or bouncing from tasks before they’re completed, the user may be able to focus on what’s important by diverting extra energy into the toy. By spinning instead of getting up or goofing off, a distracted student may be able to improve listening and comprehension, as well as decrease the time it takes to complete work. Adults with attention problems will have a similar result because the simple fidgeting action will channel unwanted energy that would otherwise lead to distraction and this will result in more productivity, despite the seemingly extra activity.

In situations where a child is overwhelmed by they’re surroundings, fidgeting can be a natural coping mechanism, and these small toys can provide a more socially acceptable, or unnoticeable way for children to release this nervous or stressful energy. Instead of being overwhelmed by what’s going on around them, children can focus on the simple and silent toy that glides gently around in circles with very little intervention. Almost hypnotic looking while in motion, any child is quickly amused, and instantly engaged, but for those with Autism, the additional behavioral benefits are hard to ignore.

Stress At Work

Long meetings, tedious phone calls, computer problems, and a whole host of other things can lead to anxiety and stress in the workplace. Many people click pens or tap toes to occupy their minds or reduce tension while working, and this nervous or involuntary action probably does help them stay on task, focus, or maintain during less favorable times. Studies also show that activities like doodling that may seem distracting, actually aid in concentration, and improve information retention. A simple and predictable outlet for the inevitably wandering mind has proven to be beneficial because it prevents daydreaming and other larger, more time consuming distractions. By focusing on a spinning toy at your desk, or one you’re holding under a table, you can easily draw away nervous, or anxiety filled energy in order to focus and improve your performance.

Bad Habits

Many people are using fidget spinners as part of a replacement therapy to quit bad behaviors like smoking or fingernail biting. By occupying your hands with this healthy alternative, you can use up nervous energy, and help keep your mind off the bad habit you’re trying to avoid. When you replace a bad habit with one that is harmless, it provides an easy way to eliminate the addiction. You may get looks for playing with toys when you’re too old, but if you can avoid something unwanted and unhealthy, it may be the answer you’re looking for.

Concentration At School

A child’s mind is full of energy and prone to wandering, and even the best attention span is pretty short, but fidget toys have been shown to improve performance in students of all ages. When thinking for long periods about difficult problems, listening to lectures about complicated topics, or writing an essay to summarize an opinion, it’s important to avoid distractions and stay on task. The simple spinning action of a fidget toy can provide an outlet to absorb any unwanted energy that would otherwise lead to a wandering mind, and help the student do better in all areas. From elementary students to those attending college, almost anyone can benefit from the increased concentration provided.

Just For Fun

Most kids and adults that want one don’t even know there is any health, therapeutic, or mental benefit to using one, but they do realize how cool they look, and how fun they are to play with. It doesn’t take long to notice that this is one toy that is tough to put down, once you pick it up, so it quickly becomes a favorite of almost any user. With so many possibilities for difficult tricks and combinations with other objects and spinners, the fun factor is pretty high, and beyond just the spinning action, you can even find ones with moving gears, or others with bright lights and glowing surfaces. There are spinners that illuminate to show circular patterns, and others that pop open to reveal secret compartments. The innovative designs increase in numbers all the time, and the prospect of enjoyment is pretty much guaranteed, no matter which one you choose.

Where To Get One

Although you can find high quality fidget spinners in a variety of locations, it is way easier to get tricked into buying a low quality one, especially on the internet. In the days where anyone can sell stuff online, and customers are buying pictures on a screen, it’s not that tough to end up with a low quality product when buying from online marketplaces full of individual sellers. You never know what you are getting, and with fidget spinners, the bad ones look almost identical to the good ones, but they might also have rusty bearings, brittle plastic, poor construction, or parts that fall out, and they will most certainly spin slower and stop sooner. We take the time to test all of the spinner models we carry, and we only deal with reputable manufactures, that produce consistent quality.

Most other companies will charge 2 or 3 times the price we do for the same quality spinners because we price ours as low as possible. If you find models that look the same selling for the same price elsewhere, you can almost guarantee that you will be getting a frustrating toy that will offer mediocre performance and eventual failure. When you choose any model that we carry, you know that it is made well, using top quality components, so it will work right, and last for a long time, even with regular use.

They may be here to stay, or they may be just a distant memory in just a few months time. It’s tough to tell at this point how long the popularity of spinning fidget toys will last, but one thing is for sure, this simple toy has become widely popular in a short amount of time, and it has the initial signs of being much more than a momentary fad. If you’ve never played with one, you should probably take the plunge to see what all the fuss is about. You may just discover your new favorite sport, toy, or distraction from work.

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