Fidget Spinners

What are fidget spinners and what will they do to my child?

You would’ve seen plenty of fidget spinners around these past few months, and chances are if you have children, they’ve probably already made their way into your home. But unlike the previous fad toys that had made their way into toy boxes everywhere, this one raised some questions. What is this thing? Where did it come from? What is it meant to do? Is it the Rubiks Cube or Pop Ball or Slap Band of our kids’ generation? And if the latest news reports are anything to go by, are these fidget toys dangerous?

So we did the research, and this is what we found:

What even are they?

A fidget spinner is a toy with a disc at its centre and either two or three prongs branching out. Via a bearing within the disc, the toy spins rapidly, creating a pleasant and distracting sensation of motion. They come in various shapes and sizes and can be made of plastic, brass, titanium…whatever spins, wins. The fidget spinner was originally pitched as a concentration aid for kids on the autism spectrum or with behavioral disorders, but they’ve gotten bigger than that. Much bigger.

They’re not that new

While they’ve come onto the scene recently, Fidget Spinners have been around for a while. According to articles in The Guardian, New York Times and New York post, the fidget spinner was invented in 1993 by a chemical engineer named Catherine Hettinger, but after it failed to be picked up by a major toy company, she let the patent expire. The similarity of her patented “spinning toy” and the myriad spinners on the market today has since been questioned. But whatever the case, there are numerous versions on the market today.

They won’t cure behavioural disorders

Part of the fidget spinner myth is that their calming effect can help people deal with autism and ADHD. But experts are lining up to debunk that myth. Basically, there is no research to back up these claims, even if they make you feel nice.

No, we can’t explain where they came from

Somewhere between their apparent invention in the ‘90s and the end of 2016, fidget spinners became a thing. In December 2016 Forbes magazine published an article describing fidget spinners as the "must-have office toy for 2017.” Around the same time, YouTube and Reddit videos of fidget spinner tricks started appearing, with some videos gaining millions of views. Google search trends peaked in May 2017, the same month that a fidget spinner app was downloaded seven million times on its week of release.

No, they’re not full of deadly lead, but they do need supervision

News reports surfaced in June 2017 that fidget spinners weren’t just annoying, they were deadly. The culprit? Good old-fashioned lead. According to the reports, certain brands of fidget spinner contained unhealthy, even deadly, levels of lead. Fact checking site Snopes have since debunked the reports, finding that “no report on unsafe levels of lead being found in fidget spinners has been issued by the FDA or other regulatory/scientific body.” However, Snopes have confirmed the story of Texas girl needing surgery after swallowing part of the toy. Pediatricians recommend keeping spinners away from kids under 3 and an eye on kids under 6 playing with them.

6. They’re not hard to find

Fidget spinners are available from all over place. Check out Nextra Newsagency, Kids Stuff and Toyworld for their range and get spinning.