Just in time to deflect attention from real issues such as the Gulf oil spill and a potential war on the Korean peninsula comes a pressing new crisis: Silly Bandz. Schools across the country have begun banning the popular rubber bracelets, with educators giving numerous reasons for the bans, ranging from Silly Bandz’ distracting from learning to extremely dire warnings that Silly Bandz might actually be dangerous. Fox News went as far as to suggest that the Silly Bandz might impair children’s health by causing blood clots.
As with Crocs and Pogs in years past, it seems as though the adults may have once again lost their minds over a popular children’s item. So rather than talk with teachers or doctors or journalists, we at The Smart Set decided to speak two real experts on the matter of Silly Bandz, editor Jason Wilson’s two sons, Sander (age 8) and Wes (age 5). Silly Bandz — which retail at $3 for a 12-pack and $5 for a 24-pack — were banned in Sander’s elementary school just a few days ago. I’ll let the two boys shed some light on the Silly Bandz controversy:
THE SMART SET: So what are Silly Bandz?
SANDER: Silly Bandz are rubber bands that take shapes of animals and people and objects. There are tons of different shapes. They come in all different colors.
WES: They are rubber bands that go on your wrist that look like animals and guitars and microphones and letters and fast food. They come in lots of colors, even like tie-dye colors and sparkly colors.
THE SMART SET: Why are they so popular among kids in your school?
SANDER: Because they’re new and you can trade them and they sell them everywhere. We can bring them to school without having to put them in our backpack. They just go on your wrist. They’re better than regular rubberbands because they actually take shapes.
WES: I don’t really know why they’re popular. Because they are cool.
THE SMART SET: How did you first find out about Silly Bandz?
SANDER: The girls in school had them first. Autumn and Julia each gave me one for free — a turtle and an ostrich. Then Alex got a whole bunch of them. He got 4 packs, I think. A few days later, my mom took me to [a local store called] Jamaican Me Crazy. They only had three different kinds, and so I got the zoo pack. Later, I got more. Lots more. You can never have enough Silly Bandz. I will never have enough.
WES: I found out about them because of Sander.
THE SMART SET: Are some Silly Bandz cooler than others?
SANDER: Yeah. The newer ones started to get more advanced and more detailed, so that makes them cooler than the others. They started to give them fingers, like on the gecko and tree frog, and whiskers, like on the panther.
WES: Yeah, the tie-dye ones, the sparkly ones, are cooler.
|MORE SILLY BANDZ!!!
THE SMART SET: What shapes are good? What makes one shape better than another?
SANDER: I like the jungle pack and the bug pack. I have both of those packs. And the tie-dye sea animal pack, which I just got from my grandmom. The jungle pack has very detailed animals that I like: the gecko, tree frog, panther, gorilla, monkey, and the toucan. The bug pack has a bee, and a butterfly, a caterpiller, spider, ladybug, and something else.
WES: My favorite is the panther. He looks like he has a tongue, he has four legs and a body, and he has ears and I just like him.
THE SMART SET: Is there one type of Silly Bandz that everyone wants to get?
SANDER: Right now, everyone seems to be wanting the gecko. And I have the gecko! It is extremely rare, but I have four! Before that, the hedgehog was popular, and the tie-dye ones, and the dollar sign. But they are not as popular anymore. Well, the tie-dye ones are still popular. I like the sparkly ones, but not many people have them, so they are hard to trade for.
THE SMART SET: What shapes are bad or uncool?
SANDER: Common shapes like the O. It’s just a circle. And the heart. The heart’s not that cool.
THE SMART SET: Do you know the difference between the real Silly Bandz and other knock-off brands?
SANDER: They are exactly the same thing, but different companies just call them different things.
WES: Like Zany Bandz.
SANDER: Like Wild Bands. But they’re really all the same thing.
THE SMART SET: Do the boys and girls like different kinds of Silly Bandz?
SANDER: No. Everyone wants the same ones, especially the rare ones. They don’t care what they are. Even if it’s a princess, I still want it if it’s really rare.
WES: I don’t know which ones the girls like. They never show me!
THE SMART SET: Which ones do the boys like and which ones do the girls like?
SANDER: A lot of boys like the rock band pack. Some girls like the princess pack. Others just like the packs that are rare.
WES: Boys like the rock band pack. But I think the girls do, too.
THE SMART SET: We understand that Silly Bandz have been banned in your school? Why?
SANDER: Because some kids were getting upset because they traded away their favorite Bandz. I don’t know why they were doing that. Maybe because they wanted ones people called “rare.” Maybe they didn’t know that they would be sad later.
THE SMART SET: What happens if you get caught with Silly Bandz in class?
SANDER: The teacher tells you to put them away. And if she sees them again, she takes them. But she hasn’t had to do that yet. Sometimes, kids take them in their backpacks to trade after school. You’re not allowed to trade in line before school. Only after school.
THE SMART SET: Trading Silly Bandz seems to be something that your teachers are unhappy about. Why?
SANDER: They think it distracts some people from the lessons. It doesn’t distract me. Ever.
THE SMART SET: Can you tell us what makes a good trade? What makes a bad trade?
SANDER: An awesome trade might be a dinosaur for a gecko. If I got the gecko.
WES: I don’t really know [Shrugs]. People trade because they want to trade. Because they have Silly Bandz, and that’s what you do: Trade.
THE SMART SET: Sander, you’re in second grade. Are Silly Bandz also cool among the older kids in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade?
SANDER: Yes! They like them a lot, too. Everyone in my school likes them.
THE SMART SET: What about among younger kids? Wes, you’re in pre-school. Is everyone in your class into Silly Bandz?
WES: I was the first person in my class to have them. Everybody wanted one. I gave away a lot at first. Once, I even gave my friend Alex half of the ones on my arm, because I had more at home. Alex didn’t give me any, though. He gets picky about Silly Bandz. He begged me for them, and he said he would give me something in return, but he really didn’t. Soon, everybody in my class started to like Silly Bandz. My teacher put them in the Treasure Box — so when we were good we got to pick them out of the Treasure Box. I got a few from the Treasure Box. So did a lot of kids.
THE SMART SET: Do you ever trade among brothers? Is there ever any trouble?
SANDER: It’s fine. Sometimes I trade with Wes, and I’ve never made a bad trade with him. Sometimes our Silly Bandz get mixed up, though.
WES: Sander is a good trader. He’s a fair trader. I’ve liked all of my trades with him.
THE SMART SET: Do you think it’s fair that Silly Bandz were banned in your school?
SANDER: Yes, because if people were trading their favorite ones away and getting upset, then the ban makes things better. But I really wish we could still trade them in school. It was a lot of fun to make trades.
THE SMART SET: Wes, are you disappointed that you won’t be able to bring Silly Bandz to kindergarten next year?
WES: Yeah, really sad. I think I’ll try to trade after school on the little kid playground. That’s the only playground that’s good for the kindergarteners. That’s where all the kindergarteners go to play after school.
THE SMART SET: Whatever happened to Pokémon cards, by the way? You used to get excited about trading those. Don’t you guys trade those anymore?
SANDER: They just lost their popularity when Silly Bandz came along. They’re not as popular as much now. But they’re still kinda popular.
THE SMART SET: Do you think Silly Bandz will still be popular when school starts again next fall?
SANDER: Yes. I think there will be new kinds. Like maybe an ocean abyss pack, with goblins, sharks, giant squid. That would be cool. Maybe a daily life pack, with like a lunch box, and a shirt, and a person, and a newspaper. There might be a bird pack, with different kinds of birds. A backyard pack, with maybe a ball, and a tree, and rake, maybe. Maybe a person pack. Who knows?
WES: I think the same as Sander. Maybe there will be a new nature pack, with like leaves, nature, squirrels, and birds and stuff.
THE SMART SET: Do you think Silly Bandz will be popular for a long time? How long, do you think?
SANDER: Yeah. They are just so popular now and everyone has them. I think they’ll still be popular for a few more years, until another company gets big ideas for other stuff to trade.
WES: Yes, because I’m going to really like them next year, so I think they’ll definitely still be popular. • 2 June 2010