Fidget spinners are the biggest phenomenon of 2017. Nobody had heard of them until this year, and suddenly, they are everywhere. But, the concept of a fidget spinner is not exclusive to 2017. These toys have been around since 1993. However, something about them has caught the attention of this particular generation, and they adore it.
If you are a parent or a teacher who is simply unable to wrap your head around their sudden popularity, then don’t worry, you are not alone. Fidget spinners are a sensation and there are many reasons for that. Before we look into all of them, let us first check out what these toys really are.
A chemical engineer, Catherine Hettinger is credited with the invention of the insanely famous fidget spinner. Hettinger came up with what she called a ‘spinning toy’ in 1993 and patented it. Ironically, she could neither generate enough sales nor find a commercial partner to help her take it to the mass market. Therefore, she let the patent lapse in 2005.
However, there is another origin story for the legendary fidget spinner. An IT professional, Scott McCoskery, claims to have invented a metallic spinning device similar to today’s fidget spinner. According to him, he came up with the idea of a fidget spinner in 2014, in order to keep himself from fidgeting during conference calls and important meetings. After getting repeated requests from an online community to commercialise the product, he started producing what he called the Torqbar
The commonly available fidget spinners in the market are made out of plastic. However, they can be made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel, brass, titanium, aluminium, and even copper. The bearings on the fidget spinners are usually made of ceramic, chrome or stainless steel.
The materials used to make fidget spinners can range from cheap to ridiculously expensive. Keep in mind that heavier is the metal used for the weights on a fidget spinner, the longer will it rotate.
Fidget spinners are small and flat. They are usually three-pronged and have a bearing in the circular pad in the centre. The central bearing is held between the fingertips, while the rest of the body spins.
When the spinner is given a spin, the weights on the outstretched arms keep it balanced and also make it spin faster. Each fidget spinner has a different time of spinning, noise, and vibration which can vary with their design and materials used. This simple motion is hypnotic and calming.
The continuous circular motion of a fidget spinner without any continual effort provides a pleasing and calming experience to the user. According to ancient Tibetan traditions, spinning is said to have a soothing effect on both the mind and the body. In fact, many patients suffering from autism and ADHD are prescribed spinning toys to fidget with.
Everyone fidgets. We are always touching our hair, checking our nails, and tending to an itch that wasn’t there. Focusing on the task at hand is a challenge for many of us. But, the focus can be improved by allowing for activity breaks, removing distractions, or as the kids are doing today, by using a fidgeting toy like a fidget spinner.
Autistic kids usually use fidgeting devices to deal with the stress that the everyday routines place on them. With fidget spinners becoming a craze, these kids feel elated when they see their classmates using similar fidgeting devices like them. It removes the awkwardness and the alienation they feel every day of their life. The continuous spinning of the fidget spinner also helps kids with ADHD to focus better.
There are many theories that explain why a fidget spinner is actually helpful in calming an individual. One theory is that a fidget spinner occupies the parts of the brain that are responsible for distraction. Obsessive thoughts like what people think of you, why did my friend not comment on my Facebook profile picture, and much more may be controlled by focusing your brain with a fidget spinner.
A stronger theory that has garnered a lot of support is the comfort that a ritual like spinning has to offer. It brings in a sense of predictability and familiarity which is comforting to the human brain.
Fidget spinners may have started as a fad. But, there are reasons why fads exist. People get attracted to them and find comfort in them. This is exactly what a fidget spinner offers. The scientific studies may prove in the future something that we already feel today, right now. Fidget spinners help us calm down, and help us keep unhealthy thoughts at bay.
So keep spinning, and stay calm!