Do you use fidget toys?

By Laura Bergells on
fidget toys

I heard the term “fidget toys” for the first time this week. Listen, I’m old school. I’m accustomed to calling these things “toys”.

But as it turns out, I use what we now call “fidget toys” all the time. And I use them without realizing they are a popular trend right now.

But how do I use my fidget toys? Not necessarily for fidgeting:

Improv tools. Meeting starters. Creativity enhancers.

You won’t believe all the toys I found hanging around my desk and in my briefcase. But I use them as legitimate business tools.

My fidget toys aren’t the fancy, trendy ones. Mine are old school toys. You could have found some of them in classrooms over 100 years ago.

But I really do appreciate the creativity that fidget toys inspire. I remember a toy from my childhood. It was discontinued. As a 8 year old, I coveted one of these items (see below). But I knew better than to ask my parents for one. They wouldn’t allow it.

Instead, my parents gave me a pony. A pony is the ultimate fidget toy. Grooming and shoveling gives you plenty of opportunities to fidget.

Now, I read a little bit about the modern fidget toy phenomenon. It turns out that fidget toys may have a legitimate therapeutic purpose. This means your teacher may not punish you for playing with a toy in class. Instead, some teachers are OK with pricey devices like cubes and spinners. (Go ahead and Google “fidget cubes” and “fidget spinners” to see what I’m talking about.)

The idea behind these new fangled toys is to fidget discretely in public, so as not to disturb others. A teacher might have to confiscate your toy if you are fidgeting too enthusiastically. (Go ahead. Search for YouTube videos featuring people who take fidgeting to spectacular excess.)

And now that I’ve read a bit about the fidget toy phenomenon: I’m seeing them everywhere! A colleague had a cube on his desk. He said he uses it to calm his anxiety. It’s an expensive little thing — around $50, if you can believe it.

This inspired me to cut yet another video. Here, I outline 10+ classic fidget toys that I had laying around my house. These are old school toys. Some I’ve had for decades – and I still use them today.

The big benefit to many of my classic fidget toys is that they are practical. They put your fidgeting to a useful purpose. That way, you have something to show for your efforts at the end of your bout of fidgeting.

Sure, I fidget. Who doesn’t? But I fidget with a purpose.

What about you? Do you use fidget toys? What’s their purpose in your life?


  1. I’m famously fidgety.

    I’ve had a few different fidget toys (aka “toys”) on my desk over the years. Though one that has been a constant over the past 15 years is a red rubber ball.

    I originally bought that for therapy-squeezing purposes after stupid (self-inflicted) injury from bad ergonomics. It’s mostly a fidget toy now.

    At client sites, there are always pencils to (quietly) tap though my favorite away-game fidget toy is my water bottle. Tapping, squeezing and spinning things doesn’t always do the trick, so I like to get up and take a walk to get a refill.

    While working at home-office, a broom and a sponge are among my fidget toys.

  2. I also have a Magic 8 Ball on my desk. It’s been permanently stuck on ‘try again later’ for years. This amuses me, so I can’t get rid of it yet. Who knows if it’s broken or not?

  3. Hard to say if it’s broken, or if it’s just being cold-hearted orb.

    Didn’t even think about this as a fidget-toy until I just picked it up a moment ago….

    A little over a year ago, I got stressed over the fact that my fine-motor skills are too deficient to ever become good on the guitar. Then got doubly-stressed over the fact that I could not find time, or just plum forgot, to attempt to play it.

    Thus, I became trebly-stressed that mediocrity seemed beyond my grasp.

    Soon realized that if it stayed out of my view when I was at my desk it would be ignored.

    Eventually,I put it beside my desk, so now when I am waiting for a program to load, or can’t think of a word (which is often), I can get up and strum for a few moments.

    It’s been good for my fidgets. And though, I’m still uncoordinated as hell, tiny bits of practice make mediocrity seem attainable.

  4. Yes out of hand.

    I remember when there was excessive use of the term “learning object” among educators there was an article that called attention to the silliness, title was something like:

    “My Left, Big Toe Is A Learning Object. Now What?”

    Now I’m thinking that if I keep some clippers on my desk, my left big toe could become a fidget toy.

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