The fidget spinner: the solution to your exam stress-relieving needs?


It’s the most stressful time of the year as students around the world cram for their finals. As the stress mounts up, some university students have turned to the stress-relieving toy that has taken the world by storm since the beginning of 2017 — enter the fidget spinner.

Henry Wong, a year 4 Quantitative Finance student at the University of Hong Kong, said he first found out about the fidget spinner on Facebook last December.

“It can relieve stress,” said Wong. “Especially when I’m solving math problems, giving it a spin helps my brain think through the problem.”


Fidget spinners are usually made of plastic or metal, with a two or three-pronged design and a bearing in the center. PC: Martin Choi


The fidget spinner, technically, only does one thing. It spins with a twirl of your finger. Yet it has been marketed as remedying ADHD, autism and anxiety by sellers on Amazon.

Invented in 1993 by Catherine Hettinger, the fidget spinner was originally meant as a remedy to soothe and distract young children.

Although Hettinger told the Guardian of a special needs teacher who had success using them to soothe autistic kids, no studies have actually shown documented proof of their effect to help those suffering from ADHD or austism.

More than two decades after its invention, this toy suddenly rose to popularity earlier this year. Online searches for fidget spinners rose dramatically this April according to Google trends.

Calvin Leung, a year 4 Computer Science student at the University of Southern California, got his first fidget spinner online on Saturday.

“When I first got it, it actually distracted me because it’s so cool and so addictive,” said Leung. “But once you get used to it, it relieves stress and helps you concentrate.”

Leung said it also helped him get rid of bad habits, like leg-shaking and pen spinning. He has another fidget spinner coming in tomorrow.


People perform tricks with the fidget spinner, like spinning it on one finger. PC: Martin Choi


Yet some have questioned whether the fidget spinner really does relieve stress.

“In fact I don’t find it useful in any means of stress management, but just a social norm nowadays,” said Angus Au, a third year student at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong.

Au found out about the fidget spinner as he was giving private tutoring to a primary school student.

“It’s been a big thing at school since early April,” said Georg Find, a grade 6 student at Diocesan Boys’ School Primary Division. “Pretty much everyone plays in my class.”

Find said they play it just for the fun of watching it spin. They also do simple tricks, like balancing the fidget spinner with one finger.

Its debatable whether the fidget spinner is the stress-relieving toy of 2017, or just a kid’s toy that happened to become popular. But when the stress mounts and there’s no other outlet, there’s no reason not to give it a try.



Writer: Choi Wun Ting Martin

Editor: Chung Wai Ling Joy

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