Let’s Talk About the Fidget Spinner Craze

This week I check out my first fidget spinner, in an attempt to figure out what all the fuss is about.

Some of us were fidgeting long before the revolving metal discs came whirling into the picture. All of the sudden fidget toys and spinners are everywhere.

As I pick up the small black tool and twirl it between my pointer finger and thumb, I have mixed feelings. The heavy cold metal zings and vibrates, resonating into my fingertips.

On one hand, the whoosh of the quivering metal is soothing. The fan-like rotation is also quite enjoyable, reminiscent of the shimmering pinwheels I adored in childhood.

Spinners are everywhere. They have invaded playgrounds, classrooms, and memes all over the world. Kids collect them like Pogs, do tricks with them like yo-yos, and flinging them across classrooms.

Somehow spinners have caught on, becoming the new “cool toy” and everybody wants one. Completely out of control, the fidget fad is booming, leaving many people who were “fidgeting before it was cool” with mixed feelings.

I hope this will give way to more teachers allowing movement in class.

When I was in school hands had to be still. You were not allowed to play with pencils or strum your fingers, even if you did so quietly.

One teacher, a stern old fashioned woman who seemed to have it out for me, made me sit on my hands to keep them still. I remember the hard wooden chair painfully pressing into my boney knuckles.

At first, when I stopped my hands my legs would jump, bouncing up and down, under the desk. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” the teacher asked in front of everyone, “You look like you are doing a pee dance. Go to the bathroom or knock it off!”

Keeping my hands under control was hard work.  Eventually, I learned that my hands could be moving under the desk or table, as long as the teacher didn’t notice.

Little has changed. I think best when actively relaxed, allowing my body to move naturally. As an adult you find more acceptable things go play with, rings, necklaces, pens, and cell phones. Holding something in my hand keeps me grounded, helping me to stay present and mindful. Often I will pop and rub my fingers quietly if I find myself empty handed.

When I was young there were no fidget spinners, being the squirmy kids who couldn’t sit still was not cool or trendy either. Funny to see how things have changed.

Is this a door to widening acceptance or simply a gross misuse of a well intended too?



28 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About the Fidget Spinner Craze

  1. Our youngest has always required various sensory things to help settle her down – the most successful was a textured cushion to sit on, closely followed by a wooden chair that put her at table height, but with her feet still grounded. The fidget spinners work wonderfully FOR THOSE THAT NEED THEM – our middle daughter proved it, when I caught her gazing at the spinner in the hallway, like a zombie – she doesn’t need one…

  2. I’m kind of hoping that fidget spinners make it ok for fidgeters to fidget. While schools may see them as a distraction, fidget spinners could well be helping fidgeters to be calm enough to focus on what the teachers are teaching.

  3. My kids are already grounded from them after one too many incidents. Last year it was shopkins, in my day cell phones were the newest trendy disruption. If it’s portable and trendy, it is going to cause problems in the classroom.
    What? Like the parents of those kids aren’t screwing off in their cubicle playing candy crush? Anything to take your mind off the torture of sitting and doing your work, I guess.

  4. I would agree that these fidget spinners are for those who need to fidget. I just wish they would not be mistaken for “stimmers” as they have little sensory output (a rather low frequency vibrating sound) which at least in my case is quite distressing. I remember as a child being absolutely in love with the axial disc spinners, because the wonderful physics behind their gracious movement. Compared to those, these new marketing spinners are just monstrosities…

  5. My husband bought me one that glows in the dark. I’ve found that it actually helps me with my OCD. When I’m feeling the urge to do one of my destructive compulsions it helps to grab my spinner instead and focus my energy on that instead.

  6. Someone gave me a fidget spinner a few weeks ago – I hadn’t heard of them before that. Like you mentioned, I find it soothing and also a bit hypnotic. I’m not a fidgeter by nature, but I do love this new spinner!

  7. I think it’s helpful for those who like to keep their hands busy but I have heard they’ve been swallowed by kids, which is upsetting..

  8. My daughter, an anxious fidgeter, has one and she loves it. It helps keep her hands busy when she needs to be paying attention. It’s nice because it doesn’t make much noise. I bought a fidget cube, thinking only one or two of the buttons would make noise, but the whole thing is noisy, so not appropriate anywhere that remaining quiet is necessary. While I too fidget, the spinners do nothing for me. I like that my daughter has been allowed to use hers in the classroom (in high school), but I worry that the “craze” and the fact that everyone has them will get them banned. I’m not sure why kids want them in the first place, and I don’t understand why someone who has no need to fidget would bring it to school. I really don’t get the whole popularity thing with these, but hey, what do I know?

  9. I think the fidget spinner is an accident waiting to happen . Kids are still kids . I can see them sailing across a room . I bought my sons fidget cube . He is 18 and loves it . Back in the day I would buy him rolls of labels and he would stick & unstick between his fingers to relive his anxiety . Fidget cubes are better in my opinion .

  10. We thought about getting the cubes or spinners for the kids at my job, many of whom struggle with ADD, ADHD, or anxiety and got a firm no because they would create a “distraction”. When I am particular anxious and restless, I keep a gem stone on me to ground myself. If I don’t, I pick at mt ears. I had given gems to kids in my group and they loved picking out the colors they liked and having something to feel when restless. Of course, the residential staff took them from the kids because stones aren’t on the “approved item” list. Being a naughty therapist I got new ones for the kids who liked them and were non disruptive for them. Anything, anywhere can become a “nuisance”. Should we take away pencils so kids can’t doodle? 😤

      1. My 10th grade math teacher demanded I hand over my notebook which was filled with poems and stories. Of course, I promptly told him where to stick it and stomped off notebook in hand.

        Never could figure out why I didn’t make it past algebra!

  11. Fair point – while we want understanding and acceptance for those who may really benefit, when everyone’s doing it it tends to get misused.

  12. Part yes and part no I think. One one hand yes it may make it more open and acceptable to others that yes, some people need these kinds of aids to be able to sit still/pay attention/calm down. Not sure about people buying them as a fad though. Not to mention those who have small parts that have then gotten lodged in the throats of some children as they are knockoffs that are not up to scratch.

  13. My kids are grown up so they missed the fidget craze. When I was in school there was no fidgeting allowed. Silent until spoken to and we had to stand up when we spoke to the teacher or answered a question. Silence in hallways going from one class to the other Recess was an explosion of noise and activity. All that was a looooong time ago! Thanks for your post it was informative and entertaining.

  14. I picked one up, spun it, tilted it and it reminded me a bit of the gyroscope we had as kids as you cold feel the balance change as it was tilted this was and that.
    Warmest regards, Ed

  15. My students taught me how to use the spinner when I was still learning about them. I do understand the distraction issue but, besides classroom rules, everywhere I see a kid using one they are playing with it calmly. Years before we used other fidget toys and worked as the new spinners.

  16. I was grocery shopping the other day. At the beginning of my shopping endeavor I picked up a roll of washi tape. Half way through my shopping trip Mr. D my oldest started laughing at me. Why? I was spinning the roll of tape in my fingers. I have been known to fidget while doing other things. Often getting reprimanded in school ages before fidget spinners.

  17. Thank you! I wondered what on earth the thing is and nobody around the ranch gave me a direct answer or said the obvious name for a fidget spinner. Fidgeting seems to help me stay focussed too, but also a trend shunner, I shall stick with my beaded bracelet.

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