Fidget spinners are all the rage right now. Originally marketed to kids with ADHD, autism, anxiety, and other “fidgeters,” it seems like everyone has one or wants one, including adults. Rex Huppke sees them everywhere:
For the few unfamiliar with these devices, they’re simple: a palm-sized, two- or three-pronged gadget with a circular bearing in the middle and circular weights on each of the prongs. The casing is usually plastic, sometimes metal. All you do is pinch the circular bearing between a thumb and forefinger and give one of the prongs a spin.
And then it spins. And spins and spins and spins.
And that’s fun. Apparently.
You can balance it on a finger. You can toss it from one hand to the other. But most of all, you can fidget with it, which is the point.
Huppke also sees a problem closer to home:
As a parent, I can testify that the gadgets help my child focus. But that focus is solely on spinning, collecting, discussing and dropping fidget spinners.
He talks about fidget spinners. He spins fidget spinners. He breaks fidget spinners and then feels tragically sad about broken fidget spinners.
He wants to obtain more fidget spinners, because there is always another spinner better than the 73 he keeps in his pockets. He asks that we watch him do a fidget spinner trick, and then he fails at that trick because it’s physically impossible. Then he asks for my newly upgraded smartphone so he can watch another instructional video for physically impossible fidget spinner tricks, of which there are 19 million.
Tanya Mendis sees other dangers with fidget spinners:
In Texas, a mom says her 10-year-old daughter nearly choked to death when one of the metal bushings from the spinner got lodged in her throat.
The girl claimed she was cleaning the spinner when the piece fell off.
In Georgia, a grandmother says the fidget spinner broke apart in her three-year-old grandson’s hands. She too worried about the potential choking hazard.
“They’re not FDA approved so there’s no regulation in terms of how they’re being made, 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,” says Developmental Pediatrician James DuRant with Novant Health.
While the American Academy of Pediatrics hasn’t commented yet on the fidget spinner craze, the AAP Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention has weighed in on other choking hazards in the pediatric population:
Choking is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children, especially those aged 3 years or younger. Food, coins, and toys are the primary causes of choking-related injury and death. Certain characteristics, including shape, size, and consistency, of certain toys and foods increase their potential to cause choking among children… Pediatricians, dentists, and other infant and child health care providers should provide choking-prevention counseling to parents as an integral part of anticipatory guidance activities.
So far there is no peer-reviewed evidence that fidget spinners actually help inattentive kids focus better. In fact, parents and teachers may find them annoying and distracting in their own right. They may be fun — and fun can be addictive — but parents should worry about the potential dangers these spinners and other toys and gadgets pose, especially to very young children.