The debate over whether fidget spinners are toys or useful aids for those suffering from ADHD, anxiety, Autism and other conditions continue.
Fidget spinners came to attention in December 2016 when an article by James Plafke of Forbes described them as the “must-have office toy for 2017.”
Yet when fidget toys soared in popularity during 2017, it was not as an office toy. In fact they were advertised and sold on Amazon as “stress relievers” with claimed benefits for individuals with ADHD, anxiety or autism.
Whilst the jury is still out on whether fidget spinners do live up to their claims to help relieve stress and anxiety, there is no doubting there popularity.
Remember Pokemon Go? Young adults, teenagers and children catch on quickly to ‘crazes’ or ‘fads’, and they certainly did with fidget toys.
Aided by amazing videos of tricks loaded on youtube, fidget spinners soon became a phenomenon.
Children began bringing them to school. Remember they were marketed as aids to help concentration. But soon there were complaints that instead they were disrupting lessons. Teachers posted on the Mumsnet forum, complaining that the toys were ruining lessons. As a result they have been banned from many schools.
The Darker Side of Fidget Spinners
For those who love a conspiracy story, surely a toy is not where you would expect to find one? Think again.
Let’s go to the origin of these toys. Engineer Catherine Hettinger is accredited as the inventor of the fidget spinner.
She made her first fidget spinner in 1993 and she made rounds at fairs managing to sell a couple thousand devices. She frequently tried selling them to toy companies.
Once she had her patent approved four years later, Catherine Hettinger booked a meeting with Hasbro, the third-largest toy maker in the world. Hasbro sent her a rejection letter after testing it on consumers and declined on her spinner.
In 2005, the patent expired on Hettinger’s original product allowing companies right to sell the product independently. However, the year the patent expired was incorrectly reported as 2017 in some sources leading to these conspiracy theories.
Now almost 20 years after it denied the original product, Hasbro sells the fidget spinners. To further disappoint conspiracy theorists, Hettinger isn’t upset about the sudden popularity and monetisation of her invention. In fact, she’s excited about it.