The World of Fidget Spinners

By Otha Skipper

Walking down the street, sitting in a classroom, jogging through the parks, it is impossible to ignore the plethora of fidget spinners owned by boys and girls of all ages. In 2017, the toy took the world by storm, popping up in every corner store, drug outlet, and shopping center in America.

According to toy analyst Jonah Koenisgseker, “Fidget spinners could be the top stocking suffer in 2017.” It is obvious that mindlessly spinning the toy when one is bored is not its only use. Widely used, there have been thousands and thousands of fidget spinners sold worldwide and my brother, Quinton, has six of them so far.  He said he plans on getting a new one — or two — every 7 days. He said that they don’t distract him or get him in trouble, but, instead, keep him calm and busy when he is bored. He said they attract him because of each model’s unique features. Some have lights, others play music, and some just spin with different colors around them.

In school, Quinton’s  teachers have had their trepidations about having the toy in their classrooms, as they had no idea what it was. After Quinton explained the purpose of the toy, and that it would help him concentrate and contribute to class discussions, he was allowed to keep using it.

Major news outlets, such as The New York Times, have speculated about the origins of the toy  and its unexpected boom in popularity throughout the country, crediting Catherine Hettinger from Tulsa, Oklahoma with the invention of the fidget spinner. She filed for the patent of a “spinning toy” back in 1993, which was eventually terminated in 2005 because she could not afford to pay the fees.

“The product that we have, I feel, is designed more for children, so I feel better about putting her name on that—the ‘Hettinger spinner’ or whatever and getting that out,” she says in reference to the toy. With 10 days to go, however, her campaign is still about $9,000 short of her goal. On Amazon, there are roughly 8,284 sellers who sell the toy. On eBay and Alibaba, there are more than 3,300 vendors, offering about 600,000 spinners. It is clear that this fad is taking the country by storm.

Of the thousands and thousands of products  amid the $51 billion toy industry, the actual size of the fidget spinning market has been hard to judge, as most of its vendors are small and scattered. However, the ubiquity of the toy, which is supposedly used as a tool to promote concentration among children who have ADHD and Autism, has been undeniable.

As the sales of fidget spinners are slowly beginning to decline, I believe that this is because the phenomenon is simply a fad. In my opinion, these are a fading trend that will teeter off in the next five or ten years. Although, with the benefits of use in adolescents who are on the autism spectrum, it is quite possible that this toy could become an instrument for those who have mild learning disabilities. For those who are just using it as a fun toy, the repetitive nature will eventually fade out of American popular culture.

Otha Skipper is a student at the Youth Empowerment Project.