What are fidget spinners and why are schools banning them?

Liz Connor
Fidget spinners are the latest playfround craze: Shutterstock / hafakot

Move over Hatchimals and loom bands, because there’s a new craze taking over the capital’s playgrounds.

Fidget spinners are the ubiquitous new toys that are on the wishlist of every boy and girl under the age of 16.

Confused about what they are and where they came from? Read on...

What are they?

The plastic palm-sized toy consists of a tiny bearing in the middle of a three-pronged device which can be spun around at fast speeds while held between the user’s fingers.

The momentum of the toy provides a satisfying user experience, according to the hundreds of YouTube reviews and instructional videos that have popped up over the last few weeks.

Where did they come from?

The toy was originally created as a stress relieving device, and was marketed as an aide for those with ADHD.

The spinners gained popularity this spring, seemingly out of nowhere. LiveScience reports that Google searches for the words “fidget spinner” were barely existent at the end of last year.

Now teachers are taking to the internet to voice their frustrations over the addictive toys. There is even a dedicated forum for fidget spinners on Reddit.

The Guardian reports that the Florida-based designer of the spinners, Catherine Hettinger, designed the toy over two decades ago, but was forced to give up the rights in 2005 because she could not afford the £310 patent renewal fee.

“I just didn’t have the money. It’s very simple,” she told the newspaper.

Subsequently, Hettinger hasn’t earned any money from the tens of millions of global fidget spinner sales from this year alone.

Why the controversy?

Fidget spinners made headlines this week after a school in Somerset decided to place a ban on the toys.

A Year 7 pupil wrote a heartfelt letter to Churchill Academy in Somerset, asking them to ban the spinners after she claimed they were distracting her from work.

Headteacher Chris Hildrew shared the letter to Twitter, explaining why he would be confiscating any toys spotted in his school.

In the letter, the girl explains how “roughly seven” spinners could be spotted in her classroom at any one time, causing a distraction, because of the noise they make when they spin around.

She wrote: “This means that I am not doing my hardest on my work so I get less done.”

How much do they cost and where are people buying them from?

Like most toy crazes, fidget spinners are flying off the shelves fast.

If you've been lumbered with the seemingly impossible task of getting your hands on one of these gizmos, you'll probably have most success heading to Toys R Us.

The toy retailer is selling the spinners for £2.99 each - but be prepared to drive from store to store.

The toys are completely sold out on their website as suppliers struggle to keep up with demand.