The wildly popular fidget spinners that seem to be in the hands of children worldwide may arguably a fine gadget to help children with attention disorder but they are also potentially dangerous, a consumer watchdog group recently warned.
The small plastic and metal spinners, already banned in many schools of the US because they distract students, can fall apart, and the small pieces can create a choking hazard, Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH) said in its recent summer safety report.
Experts doubt therapy claims surrounding fidget spinners
The fidget spinner is a three-pronged, palm-sized piece of plastic or metal which spins around a central weighted disc. It is said to be the modern version of the old spinning top.
Children try to do various tricks with it including balancing them on top of fingers, toes or even the nose. There are fears that spinning the toy constantly, usually with the ring finger, could cause harm.
Experts say that there’s no tangible research that proves the plastic phenomena provide any real benefits as a therapeutic tool.
“I know there’s lots of similar toys, just like there’s lots of other games and products marketed toward individuals who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and there’s basically no scientific evidence that those things work across the board,” Scott Kollins, a clinical psychologist and professor at Duke University told NPR.
“If their description says specifically that this can help for ADHD, they’re basically making false claims because these have not been evaluated in proper research.”
Safety concerns after injuries
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 in June 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.
Instruction for parents
The Toy Association in US recently 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,” the association said. “If it’s not age graded, put it down.”
Beware of substandard fidget spinner manufacturers
Several local offices in the UK have put out warnings about the toys as unscrupulous manufacturers seek to “cash in” on the craze.
In June, Surrey County Council announced that trading standards officers had seized and impounded 800 fidget spinners which were being imported from China through Heathrow airport.
The £4,000 shipment was intercepted after officers found that warnings about choking hazards were “barely visible”.
Denise Turner-Stewart, the council’s member for communities, said: “Fidget spinners have become a huge playground craze but some manufacturers seem to be attempting to cash in on soaring demand by making poor quality and potentially dangerous versions of these popular toys.”
Video: How fidget spinners can cause injuries