What Are Fidget Toys?
It isn’t new news that fidget toys took over the world at one point. Back in 2017 was the beginning of the Fidget Spinner craze, where almost everyone was spinning a small toy in their hands. Then, fasting forward a couple of years to 2019 there was the infamous pop-it. There is also the one I know you’re expecting to read about, Slime/Putty!
So you’ve heard of these fidget toys, but what are fidget toys and what are they used for?
The How And The Why
Fidget toys are most commonly targeted at young children, however there is a broader collection of people who fidget toys are actually aimed at. They were created with the intentions of helping people who have anxiety or a neurodivergence (including Autism and ADHD) to calm themselves down.
How do they help though? They create a distraction in the simplest terms. Have you ever caught yourself fiddling with your hair when your anxious, or subconsciously biting your nails? That’s because your brain is looking for a way to distract itself from thinking about whatever is making you nervous or anxious. Although a distraction, fidget toys help young people and neurodivergent people to focus!
A Wide Selection
There is a massive choice to choose from when looking at fidget toys. Most toys help, however there may be some that work for one person and not another – it is a personal preference. Here is a mini list of examples!
- Fidget Spinner: Looking like a ceiling fan, you just hold the centre piece in between your thumb and second finger and spin! For some people hearing the sound of it spinning is what helps, and for others it’s watching it spin around in circles really fast in between their fingers. Looking at it, you probably think, well why does that help? But don’t question it, it just does.
- Pop-Its: Coming in all sorts of different shapes, sizes and colours, pop-its have little dimples in it for you to push in and out. The cycle of popping just never ends because once you’ve fully popped one side, you just flip it over and pop again! As I said, you can get these in lots of shapes, sizes and colours – there’s unicorn shapes ones, minion shapes ones and the list goes on!
- Putty/Slime: Putty and slime are the same but different. With this one it is more about textures. Again, coming in lots of colours the texture of putty or slime is quite soft and stretchy and is nice to squeeze. This is certainly a sensory stimulator when you squeeze it and it goes through your fingers or poking it and hearing the ASMR it can make! Definitely one of my favourite fidget toys.
- Stress Balls/Toys: I’ve put these two together because they both achieve the same thing. A stress ball is just that – a ball, whereas the toy is usually a shape of something (like an avocado) and most of the time has something else to add to it. They’re filled with some kind of substance, the ist of what is inside these is endless but they all create for a different experience with stress balls. You can get sand, slime, flour, soap etc… You get the jist. These are so fun to play with! Even with the balls, you can sometimes get them with an outer mesh layer which makes for them to squeeze through the little gaps – very satisfying.
- Pop Tubes: These are awesome! They’re short tubes which can expand out quite long, with ribs in it so they can move around. They normally attach to the others in the pack allowing you to build them. They make a noise when stretching which is probably a selling point to a lot of children and neurodivergent people.
- Liquid Motion: Remember lava lamps? These remind me of them! They’re a clear liquid with floating colourful bubbles going through it when moved. They’re super satisfying to watch and I can really see how these help reduce anxieties in people.
The list could go on and on, but as I mentioned before, it is really about personal preference.
When deciding what fidget toy you want, it is important to consider a few things.
Firstly, what is the need for it. Fidget toys are short term resolutions to most problems and doesn’t permanently fix them.
Secondly, where will it be being used? If it’s to be taken into the classroom with a child or in the office with you, you don’t want something loud and large that will distract others.
Then, the durability of a product. If this fidget toy is going to be used a lot of the time, you want to make sure it is worth while and will last a long time. It isn’t worth keep buying the same thing over and over for it to break.
Finally, preference. As I mentioned many times in this blog, you want to choose a toy that you like the look and feel of. It isn’t worth buying something you don’t like because it defeats the object.
A lot of professionals such as doctors and councillors actually recommend or gift some fidget toys. They often buy them in a big box with an assortment to allow their patients to pick what they want. This is a really important thing for them to do in my opinion, as it shows how much it actually can help when a professional recommends it to you.
Don’t Fancy A Fidget Toy
If fidget toys aren’t really standing out to you, there are plenty of other ways to help you to wind down and distract.
Writing, writing is such a good way to express thoughts, feelings and emotions and anything you need to get off your shoulders.
Music. Personally, music is my saviour! You can drift away into the music in suitable circumstances, and let it take all of your problems away for the time being.
DIY! Do it Yourself projects are super-efficient in helping to create a distraction. You could even create a fidget toy completely customised to you! Why not give it a go?