If you are around kids, chances are that over the last few months you have seen or heard of Fidget Spinners. These toys began showing up in stores late in 2016 and can be purchased in almost every retail location you can imagine from high-end toy stores to the corner gas station and grocery store checkout lines. These products are marketed to children and are made of plastic and marble sized ball-barons, which allow the toys to be spun, flicked and rolled in a twirling 365 of fluid motion. The fluid rolling motion of the toy and the invent of YouTube, made fidget spinners the hackie-sacs of beaches and playgrounds in 2017, but unlike the schoolyard game of hackie-sac, the fidget spinners are not made to last.
There are two major discussions going on about fidget spinners. Parents, educators, and childcare providers have expressed concerns related to both the claims that fidget spinners can be used as a tool to help those with ADHA concentrate or those with anxiety relax and more importantly the safety of the products.
First, claims made by retailers that fidget spinners can be used as a tool to help those with ADHA concentrate or those with anxiety relax is a claim that has been around for years. As pointed out in a recent New York Times article, the fidget spinners have been around for years with manufacturers and vendors of the spinners making claims about the products uses as a learning aid for those with attention issues, but according to the Times, those claims have been made without good scientific studies to back them up. Therefore, fidget spinners may or may not help those with concentration or anxiety issues.
The second concern voiced by parents, educators, and childcare providers related to fidget spinners is the safety of the products. According to one toy store owner, once she realized she need to start stocking fidget spinners she was able to order the products from online vendors, at whatever volume she needs to stock her shelves- but so were the street vendors and gas stations. The fidget spinners, which are being mass-produced in Chinese’s factories quickly, shipped out to retailer worldwide. As the fidget fade grew, more and more of the toys came to market, it quickly became apparent that some of the cheaply made products would break and fall apart, creating a hazard.
The broken fidget spinners soon became a major concern for many caregivers. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission took notice of those concerns, and in response, on August 10, 2017, the Acting Chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Ann Marie Buerkle, issued the following statement to consumers related to the safety of fidget spinners;
Statement from Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle Regarding Fidget Spinners August 10, 2017
Fidget spinners have become a phenomenon! They seem to be everywhere.
As the agency investigates some reported incidents associated with this popular product, fidget spinner users or potential buyers should take some precautions; keep them from small children; the plastic and metal spinners can break and release small pieces that can be a choking hazard; and older children should not put fidget spinners in their mouths.
There have been some reports of fires involving battery-operated fidget spinners. Like any battery-operated product, consumers should be present and pay attention to their devices while charging them. It is important to use the charging cable that either comes with the fidget spinner or one that has the correct connections for the device as charging cables are NOT interchangeable.
Companies should review the CPSC’s guidance on fidget spinners. If a fidget spinner is marketed and is primarily intended for children 12 years of age and younger, companies must certify that their product meets toy safety and other standards, including limits for phthalates, lead content, and lead in paint, if applicable, and the U.S Toy Standard, ASTM F963-16.
I encourage consumers to visit our Fidget Spinner Safety Education Center with additional safety tips and to report safety incidents with fidget spinners to CPSC at www.SaferProducts.gov to help our agency stay on top of this emerging hazard.
Fidget spinners can be fun to use but consumers and companies should be aware of some of the safety concerns associated with this product.
The take away for parents and caregivers in regards to the fidget spinner fad – use common sense. Fidget spinners, like most toys, can break, and when they do, the result could be small parts, and those small parts and pieces are a choking hazard.The most important warning parents and caregiver might want to remember is related to battery-operated and chargeable versions of the fidget spinners. The statement mentions that battery-operated fidget spinners could catch fire and that consumers should make sure that they use charging cable compatible with their devices, noting that charging cables are not all interchangeable between different devices.
The incompatibility of charges and devices is something we all need to be aware of because it relates to any device we plug into the wall. Overheating and improper device charging of any electronic device is possible, but if a product is made using improper or inadequate materials, or is otherwise cheaply made, cutting safety corners to save in manufacturing cost, it is possible for the product to have defects that make it hazardous.
So if your kids or grandkids are begging for a fidget spinner, use common sense. When purchasing a fidget spinner or any children product keeps these tips from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in mind:
• Keep fidget spinners and all toys with small parts away from children under 3 years of age.
• The plastic and metal spinners have small pieces (including batteries). Small pieces can be a choking hazard. Choking incidents involving children up to age 14 have been reported.
• 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.
• If a fidget spinner or any toy is broken, it may become hazardous. It should be inspected for hazards like small pieces and sharp corners, and its continued use should be monitored. If a hazard is found the toy should be disposed of.
Battery-operated products, including fidget spinners.
• Have working smoke alarms in your house to protect you if there is a fire.
• Be present when products with batteries are charging.
• Never charge a product with batteries overnight while you are sleeping.
• Always use the cable that came with the product.
• If the product did not come with a cable, make sure to use one with the correct connections for charging.
• Electronics and other battery operated devices, like fidget spinners, should be unplugged immediately once they are fully charged.
For more information from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission related to the safety of the fidget spinners and other products sold in the US, visit the US-CPSC website by clicking here.