Fidget toys, mainly pop-its, have been popping off on social media, with young people sharing videos of their extensive collections.
There is no denying the satisfying feeling one gets when popping bubble wrap after unwrapping a delivery so it is no wonder that the less disposable version, pop-its, have become the latest must-have toy on social media.
Similar to fidget spinners that rose to fame a few years ago, pop-its are marketed as stress relievers that aid with anxiety and help children and adults who struggle with maintaining focus.
Made out of silicone, pop-its are basically a tray with ‘bubbles’ or half-spheres that one can push through and ‘pop’. Children (and adults) can spend hours popping the toy from one side only to turn it over and pop the other. It’s a vicious cycle really.
Some people even play it in pairs and take turns pressing down any number of bubbles they wish in a single row. The player who ends up popping the last bubble loses.
Others add a dice to the mix and whatever number they get on the dice is the number of bubbles they pop.
This makes pop-its different from 2017s most popular fidget toy, fidget spinners, which were basically a small device that users could rotate between their fingers.
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They were so popular at some point that schools had to ban learners from bringing them into class.
Pop-its come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes with the most popular ones on social media being the rainbow circle and a multicoloured unicorn.
Now dubbed this year’s fidget spinner, many may not find pop-its interesting but the over 9 billion views under the hashtag #popit on TikTok, are proof that people love these satisfying sensory toys.
Due to the sudden craze, pop-its can basically be bought anywhere on e-commerce sites like Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, AliExpress and Takealot. The regular-sized ones retail from around R60 with the bigger ones selling for about R500 (probably to some parents dismay).
Small businesses have also joined in the craze like the Australian based company owned by 10-year-old Pixie Curtis.
According to the company’s spokesperson Roxy Jacenko, Pixie’s Bows started off as a hair accessory company before adding pop-its eight months ago.
Now they are popular for offering a wide range of pop-its for both children and adults, including keyboard shaped ones and large game-board versions of the toy, that are big enough for families to pop together.
“We were originally a hair accessory company for children and decided to add fidget toys 8 months ago, the sales have been incredible, often selling out within 48 hours of a product being put online for sale,” Jacenko explained.
She added that even though the toys are appealing to children, even adults are obsessed with pop-its.
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“We have customers from three to 85 – it’s quite incredible. If you are a fidgety person, then these are for you, even better is the fact that there are so many styles and designs that even as an adult there is something suitable and not too kid-like in the range for adults,” said Jacenko.
As enjoyable as these toys seem to be though, a clinical psychologist said they can only provide short term relief from stress and anxiety.
“Fidget toys can provide short term relief but don’t necessarily provide long term stress relief.” said Tyrone Edgar, a clinical psychologist with international training in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
He did however recognize that pop-its can be useful to anyone that struggles with stress.
“From a sensory perspective, the touch input is calming. It’s also distracting which can create some cognitive relief from the stress of the day,” Tyrone said.
Occupational therapist Jacqui Edgar echoed this, saying fidget toys are calming for the nervous system.
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“When using fidget toys, we obtain sensory input in the form of movement of the hands and touch. This is a form of self-regulation which can improve focus and is calming for the nervous system.
“Research by Prof. John J. Ratey, professor of psychiatry at Harvard medical school, emphasises that physical activity, even on a small scale such as fidgeting the hands, increases neurotransmitters in the brain that play an important role in improving focus and reducing stress levels,” she said.
As beneficial as pop-its can be, Jacqui said there are various other tools that can help with anxiety and stress relief.
“Fidgets toys can be useful for self-regulation and focus, however, there are various other tools that can also be beneficial in this regard.
“Thus, fidget toys are not the only option for these difficulties. Fidget toys will provide momentary relief for anxiety, however, for longer lasting effects; assistance from a therapist such as a clinical psychologist and psychiatric occupational therapist would be recommended,” she explained.
Fidget pop-it toys make sense for those that need temporary help with stress and anxiety and it helps that it comes in a variety of colours and shapes that appeal to different people.