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The Dangers of Fidget Spinners
Fidget spinners can be found everywhere you look lately, but there are a few hidden costs to this trend. The dangers of fidget spinners aren’t just limited to annoying teachers and frustrating parents. Parents have reported chipped teeth, cuts, bruises, and damaged property. When kids trick out or “mod” their spinners, things can get really dangerous. Like the latest trend of duct taping razor blades to the spinner spokes — a clear no-no on any sane person’s list.
Fidget spinners can be a lot of fun when used correctly. What began as a little distracting toy has turned into the next big craze to replace Pokemon Go!. And just as the summer of 2016 saw distracted gamers walking off cliffs, into traffic, and into walls, the summer of 2017 is seeing trips to the E.R. due to the dangers of fidget spinners.
Taken at face value, fidget spinners don’t rate too high on the potential danger scale. Making your kids wear a helmet or knee pads while practicing basic tricks would seem just plain silly. That said, there are safety tips that no parent in their right minds would think need repeating but, based on emergency room reports and “epic fidget spinner fail” YouTube videos, many children clearly need to hear:
- Kids ages 3 and under can choke on the caps, bearings, washers, and other removable parts.Keep spinners away from children under 3 and supervise play for preschoolers.
- Warn kids about the hazards of attaching sharp objects like razor blades or pencils.
- Kids may discover that spinning spinners create a neat breeze, but caution them from spinning it near their mouths.Fast-spinning fidget spinners can crack a baby tooth — or new adult tooth — very easily.
- For more advanced spinners, keep throwing tricks outdoor sin a big, open space, clear of any little brothers, pets, fragile objects, windows, open cans of soda, crystal vases… you get the picture. What goes up must come down, and fast-moving objects can knock things over, hurt innocent bystanders, and cause general damage more easily than you’d think.
- For kids who do throwing tricks, advise them to, only toss the spinner as high as their shoulders to avoid hitting a nerye or chipping a tooth.
Don’t let the potential dangers of fidget spinners keep you from picking one up for your favorite kid, however. They can provide hours of fun as kids learn tricks and discover principles of physics like force, torque, and friction in action!
Cara J. Stevens is the author of Fidget Spinner Tricks, Hacks & Mods: Amaze Your Friends with Spectacular Spinner Secrets! From Racehorse For Young Readers, available July 11 wherever books are sold. She is a freelance writer living in California with her husband, two children and one small fluffy puppy. She has authored more than two dozen books for children and adults, and writes frequently about Minecraft, parenting, hair care, DIY crafts, food and healthy living. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ATFMCara.
Fidget spinners land on list of most dangerous toys for kids
BOSTON — The wildly popular fidget spinners that seem to be in the hands of the half the children in the U.S. are also potentially dangerous, a consumer watchdog group warned Wednesday.
The small plastic and metal spinners, already banned in many schools because they distract students, can fall apart, and the small pieces can create a choking hazard, Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm said in its summer safety report, released on the first day of summer.
Children in Texas and Oregon have been taken to hospitals recently after choking on fidget spinner pieces, W.A.T.C.H. said. One required surgery. German customs officials last week destroyed 39 tons of the hand-held whirling gizmos over safety concerns.
“Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that a toy is safe simply because it is popular,” organization President Joan Siff said.
The group also warned about the fire dangers posed by lithium batteries in hoverboards; the potential for blunt force injuries from plastic weapons based on superhero movies; and impact injuries from non-motorized scooters.
Not all the possible summer safety hazards on the W.A.T.C.H. list had to do with children’s playthings. It also includes warnings about water safety, and the risks posed by clothing drawstrings.
W.A.T.C.H doesn’t tell the whole story and “tends to needlessly frighten parents,” said Joan Lawrence, vice president of safety standards at The Toy Association, an industry group of toy manufacturers and retailers, which helps develop safety standards. Toy safety is highly regulated under federal law, she said.
Lawrence, known as the “toy safety mom” pointed out that hoverboards and non-motorized scooters are not considered toys under federal regulatory definitions.
The Toy Association last month issued its own guidelines for parents thinking of buying fidget spinners, including following age recommendations on the packaging, buying only from reputable retailers, and inspecting them frequently for loose parts.
“Look at it before you buy it,” she said. “If it’s not age graded, put it down.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month—and man, if you have, we are jealous—you’ve probably seen a fidget spinner. The small stress-relieving toys are popping up essentially everywhere, making appearances on the subway, in classrooms and now in hospitals.
Kelly Rose Joniec, a mom in Houston, went viral this week after posting a lengthy Facebook status about having to take her young daughter to the emergency room after the girl swallowed part of her fidget spinner. Britton, age 10, had put a metal piece of her fidget spinner in her mouth to clean it, and it went down her throat.
Related: Do fidget spinners help anxiety and ADHD? Experts are skeptical
Joniec and Britton took an ambulance to the Texas Children’s Hospital, where an X-ray revealed the part—called a bushing—was stuck in her esophagus. The girl had to have surgery to “endoscopically locate and remove the object,” which was about the size of a quarter, as her mom shared on Facebook.
“Fortunately we had a positive outcome, but it was pretty scary there for a while…not only because of the initial ingestion, but then the concern about the composition and structure of the object, and finally, the risk with general anesthesia,” Joniec wrote. “From this I wish to offer some word of caution to parents. Fidget spinners are the current craze so they are widely distributed. Kids of all ages may be getting them, but not all spinners come with age-appropriate warnings.”
Britton is recovering, as her family told CNN in a statement, but her medical emergency could be yet another blow to the still-spreading fidget spinner trend. The toys, designed to help with children’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, have been banned from schools across the country, as doctors have expressed skepticism about whether they actually aid in reducing anxiety and restlessness.
“They’re not FDA-approved, so there’s no regulation in terms of how they’re being made,” pediatrician James DuRant told WCNC. “You don’t know where they’re being made or the conditions they’re being made in, so you really don’t know exactly what you’re getting when you’re getting these toys.”
Britton’s injury isn’t the first to result from fidget spinner use.
An 11-year-old in Australia got an eye wound earlier this month when he threw his toy into the air and missed catching it, according to Kidspot. Romper pointed out that there are dozens of YouTube videos of gruesome fidget spinner injuries.
The backlash has been swift: In Florida, a middle school reportedly took away a boy’s fidget spinner because it had three points, like a throwing star weapon. A school in Scotland, meanwhile, sent out a memo telling students to leave the gadgets at home because “if they were to be thrown they could really hurt someone.”
Fidget Spinners – Hidden Dangers
But, I want a fidget spinner please? Have you heard this from your child? Fidget spinners are now all the craze and flying off toy shelves and mall kiosks. They can be found in just about any color, in character, camo or other trends, can glow in the dark or have blinking LED lights. This latest fad has hidden dangers you should be aware of.
In case you are wondering what a fidget spinner is, they are small, palm-sized gadgets that have prongs and circular bearings that will spin between a person’s finders. The bearings in the center allow them to spin, and the bearing can be brass, steel, ceramic, titanium or other materials. The spinners themselves are made of various materials. Many look similar to a three-blade mini propeller or the triple heads on an electric shaver, but some have only two blades while others have four, five or more blades, or are completely circular.
They have been used to help children with ADHD, autism and anxiety to improve focus by relieving the need to fidget.
What are the dangers to your child?
Because they can be taken apart, pieces can be choking hazards when swallowed. Many spinners have weights about the size of a penny at the end of the blades which can get caught on the end of a child’s finger. When spinning, some of them are designed with edges that are sharp enough to even cut through flesh.
The Good Housekeeping Institute tested various spinners and determined that they are not suitable for children under three years old. Fidget spinners are not approved by the FDA, so they are not regulated in their safety, product design or composition. Some brands do contain age restrictions and choking hazard warnings, but there are certainly no warnings of the dangers of their misuse.
We recommend that if you do purchase a fidget spinner for your child, that you supervise its use. Follow all the instructions for recharging and examine the spinner after each use to insure that no parts are lose or sharp to the touch.
Fidget Spinners Safety Information Center
In light of some reported incidents with fidget spinners, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is issuing these safety tips:
Fidget spinners and children:
- Keep fidget spinners away from children under 3 years of age.
- The plastic and metal spinners have small pieces that can be a choking hazard. Choking incidents involving children up to age 14 have been reported.
- “Light up” fidget spinners may come with button or lithium coin cell batteries. These batteries are an ingestion risk for children and the larger litium coin cells can lead to sever burns in the esophagus.
- Warn children of all ages not to put fidget spinners or small pieces in their mouths and not to play with the fidget spinner near their faces.
Rechargable battery-operated fidget spinners:
- Be present when products with batteries are charging.
- Never charge a product with batteries overnight while you are sleeping.
- Unplug your fidget spinner immediately once it is fully charged. If there is no indicator showing a full charge, unplug after one hour.
- Always use the cable that came with the fidget spinner.
- If the fidget spinner did not come with a cable, make sure the cable you use is undamaged and has the correct connections for charging.
- Have working smoke alarms in your house to protect you if there is a fire.
Acting Chairman’s Statement
Read the full statement from CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle on fidget spinner safety.
Fidget Spinner Business Requirements and Guidelines
CPSC business requirements and guidelines for fidget spinners are available in our Business Education Center.
Report an Incident
Tell us if you have an incident with a fidget spinner at www.SaferProducts.gov.
Schools are banning fidget spinners, calling them nuisances and even dangerous
Tom Wuestenberg, 8, plays with a fidget spinner in a park in New York on May 23. (Jewel Samad/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)By Valerie StraussValerie Strauss Reporter covering education, foreign affairs June 1, 2017
As if worrying about funding and quality teachers weren’t enough, now schools on both sides of the Atlantic are dealing with a mighty serious problem of another sort: fidget spinners and their cousins, fidget cubes.
The little gadgets supposedly meant to help kids focus in school are bothering teachers and administrators so much that they are being banned or otherwise restricted in classrooms in the United States and the United Kingdom. Why? Because they can be distracting when kids use them as toys to do tricks — such as trying to balance them on their noses — and, some say, because they can be dangerous if the tricks go awry and the spinning gadget hits someone.
Fidget spinners are little devices with a bearing in the center of shaped material — plastic, stainless steel, etc. — that can be spun by the holder. They are often marketed as a stress-relief device for people who can’t sit still, and some companies directly appeal to kids who have a hard time focusing in class. Some of the devices make noise when they spin; others don’t.
Invented more than a dozen years ago, the toys have suddenly become so popular that “Saturday Night Live” made them the focus of a skit on a recent show. Popular online videos explain how to do tricks (one has more than 5 million views; another posted just a week ago about music to go with your fidget spinning already has more than 600,000 views) and stores can’t keep them in stock.
Schools and individual teachers in Florida, Illinois, New York, Virginia and other states are banning them from classrooms, while others are taking the fidget spinners away from kids who seem too distracted by them — or are distracting others. According to Working Mother, schools in at least 11 states have banned them and more are likely to do so.
On April 24, the Carroll Gardens School for Innovation/M.S.442 in Brooklyn posted this on its Facebook page, reflecting the concerns of administrators at other schools as well:
Dear M.S. 442 Families,
The safety, well-being and education of your children has always been our main concern. Occasionally, there are toys and gadgets that are trending in the media that all the kids seem to want. The latest is an object called a “fidget spinner” that kids are bringing to school.
Although seemingly harmless, these items are being taken out during class causing a distraction to students and staff. They are also being thrown around during transition in the hallways to and from class and in the cafeteria and at recess. They are small in size, but can seriously hurt someone.
In an effort to prevent injuries, we must officially ban these fidget spinners from being brought into our school. Please discuss this matter with your child, as we have, so they understand how important it is that all students and staff remain safe at MS 442. We will ask your child to surrender the item to an adult if it is brought to school and in turn, a staff member will call to advise you of the situation.
Please note that if your child has a sensory issue and needs a fidget, we have them on hand.
Thank you for your continued support.
In Virginia, a petition was started on change.org to persuade officials at Holman Middle School in Glen Allen to reverse a ban on fidget spinners and cubes. One student who signed it wrote:
I’m signing because fidget spinners help and need to be unbaned. They help you stay awake during class
Another student wrote:
I think this is important because of the fact that some people need to fidget when they are bored. Please take our petition into consideration.
Not all students apparently feel that way. At the Churchill Academy in England, where the gadgets are being banned as well, headmaster Chris Hildrew tweeted that a 7-year-old girl wrote a letter to him saying she wanted them banned, according to this story in the Telegraph. She wrote:
“When you are trying to focus on your work, all you can hear is it spinning round and round. If someone around you has one you kind of get attracted to it because they are trying to do tricks and everyone else is looking at it. This means that I am not doing my hardest on my work so I get less done.”
We have banned fidget spinners from lessons @ChurchillAcad – here’s why. So proud of our students! #pedagoofriday pic.twitter.com/3gIJoH4euv
— Chris Hildrew (@chrishildrew) April 28, 2017
And finally, there are some folks who just don’t get why the fidget spinner craze is, in fact, a craze:
Children are at risk of serious injury from dangerous and poor-quality imported “fidget spinners” – the UK’s most recent toy craze – according to an investigation by BBC1’s Watchdog.
A sample of the plastic gadgets were tested by experts and failed basic toy safety standards, with some found to have edges sharp enough to puncture skin and even eyes.
Wednesday evening’s programme follows warnings about the popular toys by trading standards officers, as unscrupulous manufacturers seek to cash in on the phenomenon. Many are being sold cheaply on market stalls and at car boot sales.
The palm-sized spinners consist of a ball bearing that sits in a three-pronged plastic device that can be flicked and spun. Some schools in the UK and the US have banned them, though some teachers believe they can help children concentrate – especially those with ADHD.
Watchdog interviewed parents who were alarmed by the poor quality of the toys. One parent described finding a large shard of metal protruding from the item, which subsequently drew blood.
The Watchdog team purchased five fidget spinners from local shops and consulted a toy safety expert, who concluded that none of them should have been sold as they failed safety tests.
It also bought three fidget spinners from eBay – marketed as toys for children but with the appearance of a “death star” or shuriken, which is classed as an offensive weapon in the UK.
These were assessed by blades expert Sarah Hainsworth, professor of materials and forensic engineering at the University of Leicester. She tested the toys by stabbing them into a tomato (used as a substitute for an eye) and pork skin (used as a substitute for human skin). All three spinners punctured the tomato; two pierced the pork skin.
EBay said: “These items are absolutely not permitted and will be immediately removed. We’d like to thank the programme for bringing these items to our attention.”
National trading standards officials have advised parents to look for the CE mark on packaging, which means items have been tested to European standards. They are also urged to buy the toys from a reputable seller and never for children under three as spinners contain small parts that could present a choking hazard.