What does a child turn to if they lack focus, are riddled with anxiety or are so bored with their day to day activities that they’re one level away from a snooze? A fidget spinner of course. What the hell is this little contraption? Well it’s a nifty gadget that was originally made by Catherine Hettinger, who patented her invention back in the 90’s. That patent has since run out however and since this massive craze has spread across the globe with kids trying to curb their boredom one spin at a time, poor old Catherine isn’t making a dime from it.
A fidget spinner is a tiny device that you typically clamp between your thumb and either your pointer or middle finger. You then flick or spin one of the three prongs that extend from a center ball bearing which causes the whole thing to spin at quite a fast pace depending on how are the spinner spins it. The result is a bit of a blur to watch, depending on the design of the particular fidget spinner it can be a myriad of colors blending like a rainbow. When you try one you have to admit there is something rather soothing about such a simple device and watching it whirl around at loads of revolutions a minute.
Their are claims out there this device is capable of encouraging young children to be able to focus and has been said to help autistic children, ADD and ADHD among other benefits. The school system as a whole has had a very mixed reaction on these toys though, with controversy leading to some schools outright banning their students from bringing them onto school grounds.
So what’s so special about them? Well not a whole lot really. The only unique things you can really do with them is if the particular spinner has a raised center piece some people are able to spin them horizontally on their fingertip. I know, doesn’t sound too great now does it? But unless you’ve had a turn of one yourself you can’t really understand all the rage about these simple toys.
The original inventor of the toy could well be walking around acting like she’s just eaten sour grapes. Hettinger pitched the gadget to toy monolith Hasbro over 20 years ago as she held the patent on it for a number of years, but they turned her down at the time. And you can probably guess who now sells their own version of the toy… yep Hasbro. Hettinger had to let her patent slip after she couldn’t afford to renew the patent for a measly 400 bucks. You have to wonder though, if she had held onto the patent, would this toy be blowing up so quickly like it has? Most likely not. So do we thank Mrs Hettinger or despise her now that there’s a fidget spinning kid around every corner?
Yes, if you are sitting there picturing a classroom full of 30 children all sitting at their desks fidge… aherm spinning away with their toys as a teacher tries to conduct a lesson, your concerns would be largely validated. Many schools across the US and UK have an outright ban on the toys. Although there can be many benefits to more mentally and focus challenged students with learning issues, in the average group classroom setting the toys are seen as nothing but a distraction.
A lot of kids become heavily distracted because of the competitive nature that seems to breed with such a toy. They try and battle each other to see who can balance or spin them the longest and take the esteemed title of best spinner in school. The mesmerizing nature of this tricky gadget makes you wonder if someone could actually take in other information while busy spinning. Not likely, not at a high capacity anyway.
They can be picked up anywhere from a couple dollars up to $15 for specially “dipped” spinners that have some pretty eye catching colors and designs. Most toy retailers stock them in all sorts of flavors and they can also be had online at Etsy, Ebay and Amazon.
The jury is still out as arguments for them to be banned or kept in schools are still ongoing. With the amount of distractions available to the current generation of kids with smart phones, Ipads and other devices one could argue that these are far more harmless. Another argument could say that they are just adding more clutter to a childs brain, and nothing of any substance. Have you already or would you let your child take this toy to school?