By Madeleine Bush
Fidget spinners took the nation by storm when they became the must-have fidget toy last year. Now, other kinds of fidget toys are popping up everywhere, from cubes to keychains to stress balls – and many say they’re a great way to relieve stress.
The fidget cube has six sides. Each side has a different feature. Most fidget cubes include an on-off switch, gears, a rolling ball, a joystick, a rubbing pad, and buttons to push in and out.
“I love my fidget cube,” says KU senior Justine Wolenski. “The on-off switch and the buttons to push in and out really help calm me when my anxiety is at its highest.”
There are also keychain additions that can be used for fidgeting. There is one with a miniature transmission shift on it, one that lets you continuously pop peas out of a pod, and even a keychain add-on that lets you have the feeling of popping bubble wrap repeatedly.
“Whenever I buy something with bubble wrap, I love to pop it,” said sophomore Emily Clements. “Popping the bubble wrap is fun but also relieves stress and anxiety for me.”
Clements doesn’t own the bubble wrap keychain, but believes it would be a convenient way to relieve stress or anxiety.
Stress balls are a fidget toy that have been around for years. Instead of clicking buttons, or rolling a ball, squeezing the stress ball releases energy and calms the person using it down.
Stress balls are filled with clay or gel that is malleable. Repeatedly squeezing the ball releases tension and relieves stress. The relieving of stress has been connected to better sleep and a feeling of well-being.
Sophomore Hannah Long finds no benefits in using fidget toys that others claim to have. Long has tried using a spinner and fidget cube before.
“More than anything, the fidget spinner distracted me,” Long said. “Same with the cube. I got distracted in the spinning or clicking, but didn’t feel a real benefit from either.”
Catherine Best, a KU psychology professor, explained why some people might find benefits in fidget toys, while others just get more distracted.
“Fidget toys make the brain more active for those people that suffer from disorders like ADHD, ADD, or anxiety. This allows them to focus easier,” said Best. “For those without any of these disorders, fidget toys decrease brain activity, which allows the person to become distracted.”
Best used a comparison of fidget toys to medications that aid with ADHD or ADD like Ritalin and Adderall.
“There was a study done in the 1990s on the effects of Ritalin on children with and without an attention disorder,” Best said. “Similar to fidget spinners, those with the disorder focused easier while children without the disorder lost focus.”
Best also said that fidget toys are meant to be small or secretive for people using them, taking the distraction away from other people around them.
When asked about the banning of fidget spinners from schools, Best says it only hurts the children that use the spinners for their benefits.
“Fidget toys are really helpful for the right person,” Best said. “It gives them a sense of control when they are feeling out of control with their emotions.”