OK, Fidget Spinners Are Pretty Cool: Here’s Why You Might Want One

I always thought fidget spinners were a pointless fad, but I tried one and changed my mind. Here’s how they can be useful.
Image credit: Ian Dooley/Unsplash

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Fidget spinners might be old news by now, but I’m just discovering them for the first time and I’m surprised by how much I like them. The story goes like this: My wife just ordered a refurbished phone off Amazon and the sender included a free fidget spinner in the package as a gift. And it’s not a crappy one! It’s hefty, it’s comfortable, it’s smooth, and it spins like silk. Thank you, mystery package sender, who gave me this unexpectedly awesome gift!

I always rolled my eyes at the concept of a fidget spinner, writing it off as “just another fad” born and perpetuated by the young kids of today, and as a ploy by toy makers to sell another useless product to the masses. But now that I’ve handled one for real, I can see that these things became a fad for a reason. They serve a real purpose, and I’m glad I have one now.

What Exactly Is a Fidget Spinner?

A fidget spinner is a disc-shaped toy with a ball bearing center. (I say “disc-shaped,” but really it’s more like a triangle with weighted ends. See photo below.) It’s small enough that you can hold in a pincer grip between thumb and middle finger, and you use your index finger to spin it. Because of the ball bearing center, it spins really easily and keeps going for a long time, and it produces a satisfying feeling when you get it going.

My humble little fidget spinner resting on a desk

The Purpose of a Fidget Spinner

Allegedly, the fidget spinner exists as a way to expend excess mental energy, which can manifest as anxiety, nervousness, or even stress. Some even claim that fidget spinners can help improve concentration and mental performance in children with anxiety or attention disorders, although there are no studies that prove fidget spinners are effective as a treatment for such conditions.

I, personally, find that my fidget spinner does help me to expend excess mental energy, or at least redirect some of that energy away.

I’m one of those people with restless leg syndrome, which means I constantly shake my leg without realizing it. The only way I can describe it is that I have a constant itch or ache somewhere in my muscles, and it produces an irresistable urge to shake my legs because that’s the only way to relieve the sensation. If I try to ignore it, the sensation intensifies.

Well, for some reason, that urge disappears when I’m using a fidget spinner. Don’t ask me why. All I know is that it does.

The fidget spinner’s size compared to my hand

Obviously, I can’t use the fidget spinner when both hands are occupied, which means I still have restless legs when I’m doing work or playing games. But when I’m just surfing the web or checking something on my phone or watching videos, I can do so while fidget spinning—and strangely enough, it does help me to focus more on whatever I’m doing. The act of fidget spinning itself is mindless and requires no attention. It’s pure muscle memory at this point.

In a lot of ways, playing with a fidget spinner is a lot like squeezing a stress ball, or spam-clicking a pen, or twirling a ring on your finger, but a lot more satisfying. It does help expend excess mental energy, and it has become part of my daily routine.

Getting Started With Your Own Fidget Spinner

Magtimes Rainbow Fidget Spinner

This basic fidget spinner is made of metal so it feels good and hefty, plus it spins well (allegedly up to 5 minutes) and it looks great when spinning. The multiple colors really help it stand out from single-color alternatives.

Helium K LED Fidget Spinner

This fidget spinner by Helium K, called the Firefly, has motion-activated LED lights on the lobes that can be turned on or off individually, and come with three different modes so you can create different light patterns as it spins. Very cool, and the included carrying case is a nice bonus.

Trianium Metal Fidget Spinner Pro

This crazy looking fidget spinner has a premium-quality lubricated ball bearing with a metal-alloy frame, so it spins and spins and spins. Plus, it looks awesome if you’re into the futuristic sci-fi aesthetic. A great option if basic fidget spinners are just too boring for your eyes.

Have you used a fidget spinner before? Share your thoughts and experiences with me down in the comments!