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Fidget spinners: What are they and why are they so addictive?

Procrastination toys are taking the world by storm, but none of them are dominating the market quite like the fidget spinner

Max Benwell
New York
Tuesday 21 November 2017 22:58 GMT

If you don’t have eyes, children or the internet, you may not have noticed the fidget-spinner craze that is gripping young people’s attention.

Spinning their way into children’s hearts and hands across the UK and US, the toy has been lauded as a way for young people to manage anxiety and ADHD (although this has been disputed by experts).

It’s hard to convey just how popular the fidget spinner is. But one figure stands out – 49 of the 50 best-selling toys on Amazon being fidget spinners or their squarish sibling, the fidget cube.

What is the fidget spinner?

The fidget spinner is a small device that fits in your hand. It is usually made up of two parts – a central bearing that you grip with your index finger and thumb, and a three-pronged rotational blade (resembling a rounded Chinese throwing star) that spins around it once you give it a flick with your free hand. There are some wackier designs that eschew this template (such as the multi-bladed cog version), but they generally stick to the same blueprint.

Why is it so addictive?

While other crazes have relied on collectability or competition, the fidget-spinner craze has taken off due to the toy’s immediately addictive nature. The sensation that comes from holding a fast-spinning contraption is a large part of its appeal. As you tilt it back and forth while it whirrs, you can feel the various spinning forces undulate in your hand.

What do people do with them?

The real fun comes from trying to pull off various tricks and stunts with a spinner as these forces take hold. As it spins it can be balanced on top of fingers, toes, and if you’re really daring, your nose or forehead. If you have more than one you can stack them on top of one another, and create a spinning tower that plays with your eyes. Perhaps the biggest challenge is throwing a spinner to your friend and trying to catch it, a feat even more impressive to pull off than the bottle flip.

What else should I know?

Some schools have already banned fidget spinners for being too distracting, but that hasn’t stopped them taking over playgrounds. A lot of their success is helped by their affordability. While you can invest in high-end spinners that can cost anywhere between £20 to £100, your average device will only set you back around £5.

The fidget spinner industry has also exploded over the last month, and brought a huge range of different types of the toy into existence. There is also a panoply of YouTube videos and Reddit threads to be found online, featuring tutorials, trick showcases, reviews and FAQs.

If you’re interested in getting into the fidget spinner craze or just fancy seeing what all the fuss is about, then you’ll be interested to know they’re not just sold to kids. There are spinners for adults too, and they come in a variety of different colours and shapes.

An iridescent fidget spinner

If you’re interested in all the different things you can do with a fidget spinner (or spinners) then there are a number of YouTube videos you can watch. This one from Spinnercraft, below, has been viewed more than one million times and offers varying levels of advice.

The aesthetics of fidget spinners are also widely celebrated online, particularly on Instagram. As the below posts show, special designs and materials can transform the simple toy into a thing of wonder, while others can make fun cultural references to other toys and devices, like the PlayStation.

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