The Fidget Spinner Controversy:
What are fidget spinners?
The fidget spinner is a curious little gadget designed to help relieve stress. The basic design consists of a bearing fitted into a circular pad with two or sometimes three prongs around. To use the fidget spinner, one simply holds the center pad and by using your free fingers to push the prongs - the spinner will spin.
Many of the fidget spinners in design today are made of brass, titanium, solid gold, copper or simply 3D printed plastics. (We DO NOT SELL 3D PRINTED VERSIONS) The bearings included in the central grip can also be made of different materials. There are ceramic bearings, stainless steel or chrome bearings and finally a few hybrid designs for the especially resourceful.
Different materials, weights and bearings can alter the spinning dynamics, spin time, and even sounds made by the fidget spinner.
Where did Fidget Spinners come from?
While sources must be confirmed, most news sources accredit the design and invention of the fidget spinner to a chemical engineer named Catherine Hettinger. Hettinger took out a patent for what she named a "spinning toy" in early 1993. Hettinger claims she got her idea while observing a group of small boys hurling stones at riot police in Israel. She figured the solution to these social upheavals could be found in the most simplistic distraction that relieves tension and aggression.
Nevertheless, the clever design and origin of the spinner as Catherine Hettinger created them today began when she was suffering from an autoimmune disorder, myasthenia gravis, which causes weakened muscles. Looking for ways to play with her small daughter, Catherine began throwing tape and newspaper scraps together looking for a way to keep her occupied. The results were significant and Catherine's big idea was born. Soon the idea began to catch on and Catherine began to sell samples of the invention from home and then at the Florida Arts Fair.
In May 1993, Catherine applied for a patent and then pitched her idea to a few big-name toy companies. Hasbro was the first and turned her down hoping for a deal after market testing had been completed. This was when Hettinger allowed the patent to lapse. Had she mantiained it, it would be expired by 2014.
In a Bloomberg News article. Hettinger's claim as the inventor of the finger spinner is disputed. Specifically, two important lawyers working with patents say that the resemblance between the original design by Hettinger and the types that rose to popularity in 2017 are practically identical.
Hettinger herself admits that she sees no connection between the toys that are popular today and the design she had conceptualized, she also makes no claims as being the original inventor of the fidget spinner.
She told the Bloomberg News, I don't make any claims to being the inventor, but let's just say that I am claimed to be the inventor. Like 'Wikipedia said I am the inventor, or some other reputable authority like this. Furthermore, it is unclear which patents actually cover the fidget spinner and the true inventor may never be known.
How did fidget spinners become popular?
In an article in Forbes, printed December 23, 2016, James Plafke Described the curious fidget spinner as the must have toy for 2017. In march of the same year videos on social media networks began to be posted of people reviewing and uploading footage of tricks performed with the fidget spinner. The Boston Globe also commented on Fidget Spinners entering the mainstream toy markets as the Fidget Cube toy also began to see a rise in popularity. Several online markets also began to create and sell specially designed finger spinners.
In April of 2017, the fidget spinner's popularity began to rise at an unprecedented rate. The Google search engine reported that "fidget Spinner" searches spiked during this month. By May 4th, an entire plethora of fidget spinner variations occupied every spot on the Top 20 Best Selling toys list for Amazon.com.
Many of the publications discussed the fidget sinner as a passing fad and compared it to the rise in water bottle flipping that began in 2016. In an article in the New York Post, the fidget spinner was called "a low-tech, low-cost item that everybody across the nation is looking to buy and stores just can't keep them in stock."
Should fidget spinners be banned from school?
The rapid rise in popularity continues to grow through 2017, combined with the advertised benefits for children with autism and ADHD, and others, many students of all ages and grades began to show up to school gripping their favorite spinner.
In New Hampshire school, aged children were collecting, trading and selling fidget spinners. The Boston Globe posted a comment from a sixth-grade school teacher who said, by the time we got back into school, several of the kids had brought a fidget spinner. The following day a few more, then a few more, pretty soon fidget spinners were all the rave and more common ten pencils and erasers."
In many cases, the fidget spinner allowed the children to focus on their task at school, the Chicago Tribune reported, "It is increasingly common for kids to show up to class with some item that allows them to settle and focus on the tasks at hand."
Because they are so popular in schools, there are a great many schools that are looking to ban the introduction of these items in school. The biggest reasons were that the items were not helping kids focus but rather distracting the children from completing their studies.
Taylor Klaus commented," there are times that children do not understand the primary function of the spinner and this becomes a pint of distraction rather than focusing power. Klaus continued saying, "fidget spinners are noisy, visually distracting and for these reasons are not ideal classroom objects, nevertheless, to ban them from the classroom would be throwing the baby out with the bath water."
Illinois' Plainfield District 202 were considering the idea of banning the spinner along with Mina Griffith, the superintendent for student services. The reasons were, "many kids are using the objects for their intended purpose, they have been taught how to use them." Nevertheless, for many other kids the object is a fad, a popularity item. Student looking to focus should use one, but for kids that have no disability the object is a toy and this should be banned.
What are fidget spinners used for?
When the fidget spinner gained popularity in early 2017, there were many publications made on how the spinner was beneficial to autism, ADHD and other learning deficiencies. An article in Money Magazine said, "fidget spinners were created and sold as calming tools that help kids to remain focused". Many of the products being sold on Amazon were being sold as stress relievers. Hettinger even recalled a special need teacher that used the device with her autistic kids and it actually helped them to calm down.
James Plafke of Forbes stated that, "there is simply not enough evidence that shows a device like this can indeed help people from the perspective of the mentally challenged."
Poss.Ross-Keller stated, "fidget spinners can be a good item for those kids who genuinely need them, but there should be ground rules in place that reach an understanding between the child and educator in advance. Poss. went on to deliver a more critical view of the spinner, "Spinner toys are exactly that, toys, and in my personal opinion and that of most teachers I have talked to, toys should be left out of the classroom."