Can a toy be therapeutic? Depends on how you spin it

CHARLESTON, WV (BY: LISA SHREWSBERRY, THE STATE JOURNAL) — Whirling curiosities dot the timeline of novelties that defy explanation — first, yoyos and twirling tops of ancient origin, then hula-hoops and the like in the ’50s. Now a novelty for Gen Z has emerged: the fidget spinner. An obsession to kids, and an annoyance to teachers, whether the newest fixation will manage the tenacity of its predecessors remains to be seen. For the moment, it is creating lines of eager buyers clogging up mall kiosks and scouring the internet for the latest editions.

Whether they could be beneficial tools to those with the urge to squirm is almost too good to be true, but remains a trending topic of debate among adults.

The four-holed, generally three-pronged whirligigs known as fidget spinners have existed since the ’90s, but have only recently exploded in popularity. Developed and patented as a gadget to occupy the fidgety, spinners didn’t go big (probably much to the inventor’s chagrin) until the patent expired and small manufacturer versions started appearing with customized casings and bearings. Now, they can mimic ninja stars. Others glow in the dark, are bedazzled, contain LED lighting features or, for the more discriminating of the distractible, are constructed of brass, tellurium, copper, stainless steel or titanium, selling for upwards of $190 each. More ordinary spinners can be grabbed for a few bucks, but demand has driven costs even for those to as high as $10 to $25 each.

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