A fidget spinner is a toy that became extremely popular in 2017, and has continued to be in use. It has been promoted as a helper for people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and other psychological issues dealing with anxiety. However, these claims have not been substantiated by science. The following paragraphs will discuss the origin, design, marketing and sales, and cultural significance of the fidget spinner in depth.
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The beginnings of fidget spinners is a bit unclear. Based on the information from Fidget Spinner Review, “According to many, the spinner’s inventor is Catherine Hettinger. However a good explanation on the true inventor, as in who would be able to patent the invention with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, reveals that the typical fidget spinner’s embodiment is outside the patent claims of Catherine’s and a thorough patent search by David Miller revealed many fascinating toys with nearly identical structures but the ability for engaging the user’s fingertips on both sides of the device simultaneously may have existed previously, including rotationally symmetrical lobes and bearing hubs on both sides such as shown in figure five of US patent 8,727,630” (Fidget Spinner Review). Thus, despite many claims, Hettinger was not the original creator of the fidget spinner.
Now that we have gone over the origin of this toy, it is vital to go over its design. Its ball bearing core allows the arms of the spinner to spin freely. The bearing is contained within a circular pad, and this is where the user holds the fidget spinner with one hard, usually. The spinners are made from a variety of materials, such as brass, plastic, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, and more. The bearings are composed of ceramic metal and different metals. Besides the bearing, the weights contained within the arms make spinning practically effortless and keeps the momentum going. Each bearing can be adjusted to vary the spin time, noise, and vibration of the spinner. The design makes the fidget spinner not only easy to use, but almost hypnotic in its movement (Arnett, Dugan).
Since we have gone over the basics of the origin and design of this toy, it is time to discuss the marketing and sales of the fidget spinner. It has been marketed in a variety ways, despite its simple design. It has been described as a health product for eliminating the tension and anxiety of children, as a product that produces calming fun, and as a business tool for people who are overworking and need relief. The sales have been high and the reselling value is sometimes astronomical. According to Startup Mindset, “Companies are buying them from China for $1.40 and reselling them for $20. The cheap fidget spinners that retail for about $20 in North America are an out of control success. The Chinese continue to manufacture and send abundant supplies into the U.S., and Canada and stores still can’t hold onto them” (“Here’s How Brilliant Marketing Helped the Fidget Spinner Rise in Popularity”). In fact, there were so many sales, that in some schools, they were banned due to their ubiquitousness in classrooms.
Lastly, the cultural significance of the fidget spinner is essential to tackle when discussing this toy. According to The Atlantic, “It is a toy for the hand alone—for the individual. Ours is not an era characterized by collaboration between humans and earth—or Earth, for that matter. Whether through libertarian self-reliance or autarchic writ, human effort is first seen as individual effort—especially in the West” (Bogost, Ian). So, before, tops toys made a connection with the earth and humanity, but now these types of toys are increasingly individual-centric.
Fidget spinners became a global phenomenon in 2017. It is a simple toy or tool that spins by the flick of a finger. It has been promoted as a thing that can calm people down, soothe anxiety, and be used as a source of entertainment. Though science has not proven any of their benefits, people continue to use them for stress reduction and an escape from boredom.
“FIDGET SPINNER REVIEW.” FIDGET SPINNER REVIEW, fidgetspinner34.wordpress.com/.
Arnett, Dugan. “Need to Focus? Fidget Toys May Help. – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com, The Boston Globe, 31 Mar. 2017, www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2017/03/30/need-focus-fidget-toys-may-help/eTvlgEbtEdvJ3NK9WMw7RM/story.html.
“Here’s How Brilliant Marketing Helped the Fidget Spinner Rise in Popularity.” StartUp Mindset, 29 May 2017, startupmindset.com/heres-brilliant-marketing-helped-fidget-spinner-rise-popularity/.
Bogost, Ian. “The Fidget Spinner Explains the World.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 12 May 2017, www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/05/the-fidget-spinner-explains-the-world/526521.
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