Friday, June 11, 2010

The Silly Bandz Fad

Have you heard about Silly Bandz? If you have a grade school age child, I suppose you must have. The last time I visited my niece and nephew, they were playing with these colorful little rubber bands that vaguely resemble animals and other shapes when they're laid flat. Apparently all the kids at school have gone so bonkers for these things that the teachers have had to send notes home, asking parents not to let kids bring them to school. But of course the kids do anyway, stuffing their collections into little Ziploc bags so they can show them off and trade with their friends. I thought it might just be a local trend, until a friend of mine in a different part of the country posted a plea on Facebook asking if other parents knew where she could buy Silly Bandz, as one of her kids wanted to give them to her sibling as a birthday present.

I was trying to remember if there was any big fad item like this when I was in grade school-- I know there were things when I was a bit older, in junior high school: stickers, barrettes with little strawberries painted on them, a certain kind of lip gloss. But it's not surprising for kids to want status items when they're anxious pre-teens. My niece is only 6, so I was kind of surprised that younger kids like that would be so caught up in a fad. Perhaps it's less about peer pressure and status than just the wantability of the item itself-- but it's not like it's a toy that's fun to play with in and of itself-- it's just a rubber band that you wear as a bracelet, and collect and trade with your friends, which seems to make it more of a social necessity. It's nice to know that kids can still get enthusiastic about simple things that don't need batteries, but it's also a little disturbing to think that kids can start to feel like they need material things for social success at such a young age. For what it's worth, my niece had apparently been given a couple of Silly Bandz by her best friend even though she had none of her own to trade, and as far as I know, she hadn't yet been begging my sister to buy her some. But of course the minute my mother heard about them, even though she knew the teachers were outlawing them, she went out and bought my niece and nephew each a great big bag of them!

At least they're not too expensive... from prices I've seen online, Silly Bandz seem to cost less than 25 cents per band.


Sara said...

Slap bracelets were the big fad when I was in elementary school, and one's social status was directly proportional to how many slap bracelets one owned. My mom refused to buy me even one. They were eventually banned at my school. I also remember troll dolls as another big fad in which my parents would not allow me to participate.

I was angry about it at the time -- why wouldn't they buy me just one slap bracelet so I could fit in with my classmates? It wasn't about money, because my parents have always been pretty well off, and these things were cheap anyway. Looking back on it all these years later, I'm kind of glad, in a way, that my parents helped me learn that I don't have to have things just because my peers do. It must have stuck with me to some extent, because I'm not one to run out and buy the latest iPhone or designer purse. On the other hand, maybe I would have developed better social skills if my parents had just given in and spent a few bucks on something that would have helped me be a little more accepted at school.

MtnMama said...

My six year old daughter doesn't have them on her radar yet, thank goodness, although I am aware of them.
I'm glad of that, because I think there's far too much useless junk in her bedroom already, thankyouverymuch, courtesy of dim but well meaning relatives.
(I managed to nix the ZsuZsu hamster at christmas, thank god)

It does strike me, though, that my sensitive and slightly awkward child might benefit in the pecking order at school if she could throw some brightly colored crap their way. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

We had a few big fads in elementary school, mostly in the 6th grade. One was the jelly bracelets (Madonna-wannabe-esque) and the other was those safety pins with the beads on them-- I think that they were called "friendship pins". We wore them on our shoes, and the more you had, the higher your status was.

In junior high, it was those bracelets made with embroidery thread.

Anonymous said...

For me, the age 6 fad was Watchimals and Poppels. Everyone had one and you totally sucked if you didn't. Social hierarchies via toys isn't a new thing. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

Friendship bracelets, slap bracelets, and Jolly Ranchers. I made a fortune selling (should say reselling) Jolly Ranchers. Bought them for $10 a case in the US, sold them for $100 bucks a case in Singapore ... $1 per rancher. :)

stephanie said...

When I was very young slap bracelets were popular. In elementary school pogs were the thing to have - I had enough of them to not be left out only because they were really cheap, plus they were often the toys included in kids meals from fast food places.

When I was in middle school those little electronic pet games (like Tamagotchi, I just googled it to remember the name!) were popular for a while, and so were Beanie Babies. I never jumped on board with those fads, as I was disinterested in doing "cool" things just because they were "cool" by that age.

When I hit high school I became much more interested in doing/having "cool" things again, but that was mostly because my very poor family sent me to private school, where I didn't fit in with the vast majority of people there. As a general rule, though, I've not been one to buy into fads unless it was something that I was actually interested in.

debt advice agency said...

I think these fads are pretty normal, i remember slap bracelets and tamagocchis. I also remember the flashing yoyo trends too.

Anonymous said...

Like the previosu poster, I think the fad's pretty normal. Kids like to collect stuff in any event. My kid's into the silly bandz, and got her first ones as gifts from classmates (before the teacher banned them). She had to use her allowance when she wanted more. I like that there are rip-offs -- "crazy bands, "wacky bandz," etc. -- and that this fad isn't as brand-specific as some of the fads in my childhood. And I like the way they teach my daughter the economics of trade -- like, the rock star bands are considered mroe valuable than the zoo animals ones, so you may have to give up a hippo and a duck to get a guitar. All good lessons, IMO.

Anonymous said...

I brought my son some from the supermarket.

Parag said...

Children have all kinds of fads when they are in school. When I was in school, (in 8th std probably), there was a fashion of carrying expensive compass box. Anyhow we used to buy them to show it off. School days were really rocking!!!!!!!
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Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember jelly bracelets from my elementary years. Also, when I was in 2nd grade, I remember the collections of Garbage Pail Kids trading cards!

Unknown said...

Fads will and always shape the lives of grade school kids. Trolls dolls were also a fad when I was a young child. And although yo-yo's was always a popular toy, there was a time I remember when EVERYBODY had a yo-yo and they were always playing with it.

My parents were the kind to not get me the toys that all the other kids had. I eventually grew accustomed to it and I think now I am thankful for that. They taught me to not have the need to fit in (granted it took me quite a while).

But if I ever do have kids, I think I will raise them the same way. Call it just a hypothesis, but I think if they don't give in to fads at such an early age, they won't find the need to buy so many frivolous things when they get older. Less likely to splurge.

Interesting and creative post though, Cheers!

ClubMcGee said...

You could also trade them online at It gives kids the opportunity to still interact and trade while school is out.