Free Minds & Free Markets

The Government Is Here to Make Sure Your Fidget Spinner Doesn't Kill Everybody

Please don't eat your toys.

Fidget Spinner22tomtom / DreamstimeThe fidget spinner: harmless fad that suffered a cultural backlash almost as soon as we became aware they existed? Or deadly killer?

It's a harmless fad, but months after we've all grown tired of even thinking about the things, the federal government is here to make sure you don't kill yourself, kill everyone around you, and burn down your neighborhood with a small spinning toy.

Guys, there's a Fidget Spinner Safety Information Center. The United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has a new "guidance" out with a page explaining how to safely spin a toy.

The commission's acting chair, Anne Marie Buerkle, even put out a press release encouraging people to let them know about unsafe fidget spinners and "help our agency stay on top of this emerging hazard."

The agency's efforts have prompted a CNN piece about the not-terribly-hidden dangers of the toy. Primarily, fidget spinners have small parts that children can choke on. That's a consumer product warning so typical that it's almost meaningless. There was one notable choking incident in May that resulted in a 10-year-old having to get surgery to remove part of a spinner. As CNN notes, manufacturers already warn that the spinners are potentially a choking hazard.

Some fidget spinners also have batteries in them to operate little lights, so if you have one of those, go make sure your smoke detectors are in working order right this minute! I'm not exaggerating: One of the CPSC's safety tips is to check that you have working smoke detectors if you have fidget spinners with batteries in your house. And don't charge it overnight while you're sleeping!

Disappointingly, the CPSC does not warn against attempting to sharpen the edges of the fidget spinner so it becomes a ninja star. That seems like the kind of thing certain types of kids would try to do.

The CPSC also warns that there are all sorts of regulations fidget spinner manufacturers must adhere to in order to legally sell their product in the market.

Well, at least they actually get to sell their wares on the marketplace. Readers may recall the fate of small magnet toys like Buckyballs and Zen Magnets, which the CPSC intimidated out of the market out of exaggerated fear of their risks. Watch ReasonTV on Buckballs vs. the CPSC back in 2012 below. Buckyballs are, by the way, back for sale! (And Zen Magnets are available here.)

Photo Credit: 22tomtom / Dreamstime

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Rich||

    the CPSC does not warn against attempting to sharpen the edges of the fidget spinner


  • Rich||

    "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," Buerkle said in her statement. But most fidget spinners are considered general-use products, the commission's business guidance said, so they aren't intended primarily for children -- and they don't have to meet those standards.

    Lesson learned: Market nothing primarily intended for children. "Although children may enjoy this Barbie playset, note that it is intended primarily for adult collectors."

  • Trigger Warning||

    ...who like to be on watchlists.

  • BYODB||

    I have close to zero sympathy if some kid somewhere dies from swallowing x, y, or z. If it wasn't some manufactured toy, that kid probably would have swallowed a god damn rock or, like the Ouroboros, their own feet.

    Darwin wasn't wrong.

  • Rich||

    And why are we warned only about "choking hazards"? What are ramming that thing up your nose or whatever, chopped liver?

  • BYODB||

    Or pencils! They're sharp and fit right into the ear canal!

  • Rich||

    What are these "pencils" of which you speak? Are they like phablets?

  • BYODB||

    *facepalm* You win, lol

  • Paper Wasp||

    Indeed. Either the kid is too stupid to survive (incredible, given how low the bar already is) or the parents can't be bothered to supervise their spawn. In any case, they're a turd in the gene pool, and I won't miss them when Darwin the Pool Boy fishes them out.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    "Darwin the pool boy fished another turd out of the gene pool" -- I like that!

  • Sevo||

    ..."help our agency stay on top of this emerging hazard."...

    When I moved to SF back in the neo-lithic, someone rang the apartment door bell, and I didn't yet have enough sense to ignore random bell rings.
    On opening the door, I was offered a "Watchtower" with the featured front page story on "The Dangers of Ouija Boards".
    I think I now know who wrote that story...

  • Rich||

    IIRC, "This Emerging Hazard" was your college nickname.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I don't always need a reason to drink, but tonight i'll be drinking because the Fidget Spinner Safety Information Center exists and because Anne Marie Buerkle probably makes a lot more money than i do.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Don't forget to visit the ATF webpage, so you can be sure you're drinking right.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's a harmless fad, but months after we've all grown tired of even thinking about the things,

    What are the things? I see them in fine Korean-owned corner groceries everywhere, between the lighters and the chapstick. But I've never seen one in the wild.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    My kid got one from somewhere, but she immediately lost it.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Meaning you lost it for her, I think. Good parenting skills there!

  • Jimothy||

    Lost it, or swallowed it? Better call the FSSIC just in case.

  • Sevo||

    $park¥ leftist poser|8.11.17 @ 4:15PM|#
    "It's a small spinny thing that you hold between two fingers and spin with a third"

    I need to get one and dismantle it; the popularity may be such as to lower the cost of certain bearing sizes and they might be usable in some product or other.

  • Longtobefree||

    Can we get an environmental impact statement to the effect that publishing this kind of federal nonsense is generating a huge carbon footprint on multiple fronts, and must be injoined?

    first, it cause everyone to give a large sigh of disgust, emitting carbon dioxide.
    second, it must become part of the federal records, in both printed and electronic form, using lots of electricity to make the paper and run the data centers. Again, using fossil fuels at least in part.
    third, in coming up with this madness, lots of talking, emailing, and other energy consuming tasks are done.
    fourth, lots (but not all yet) of people get so hot under the collar that the earth temperature goes up enough to make a few of the climate change / global warming models approach accuracy.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You're actually on to something. A libertarian strategy would be to demand an environmental impact before any federal agency expands or passes new regulation. Seriously. Slow that shit down with its own stupidity.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    demand an environmental impact before any federal agency expands or passes new regulation

    If you word it carefully, and hire Alan Gura to prosecute, you'd have a decent chance at recognizing environmental impact statements themselves as regulations requiring environmental impact statements.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    10-year-old having to get surgery to remove part of a spinner.

    Whey my daughter was 10, we were pretty much past the 'choking on her toys' phase. But I'm one of those weirdos that found parenting hard-- which it is when you fucking do it right.

  • ||

    The commission's acting chair...

    ...student beauticians...

  • SIV||

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    You got some first rate Fallout cosplay. That shit would kill at comicon.

  • Number 7||

    Exciting! Safe!

    That right there is how you know it's bullshit, because nothing can be both.

  • Dillinger||

    Primarily, fidget spinners have small parts that children can choke on.

    wiffle ball bats. safe alternative.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Thinking about my old room with battered closet doors from bo staff strikes and punctured walls from ninja stars and throwing knives. Sorry mom! I was 15 and listening to Emotional Rock -- I think she understood.


    These would make a great gimmick for the next Bond villain. Son of Oddjob.

  • Mongo||

    I have a thing for spinners.

  • gaoxiaen||

  • ||

    C'mon "phthalates" is a made up word, right?

    I bet Buerkle also sends out her inspectors to test blinker fluid levels. At taxpayer expense, of course...

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm going I play the Devil's advocate here and say, I've choked on over 58 fidget spinners in the last six month. This basically screams that I need to be regulated

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Have you tried probiotics?

  • Clarks Roofing||

    Good Read , couldn't agree more.

  • amelia||

    In Russia they're afraid fidget spinners are some kind of mind control device intended to zombify the citizenry.

    "In such a manner, our opposition is luring the youth," Ruslan Ostashko, the editor in chief of a pro-Kremlin website,, told Rossiya 24 in a separate report. "Those who understand political technologies, they understand very clearly that this simple thing is controlling the masses."

    So says the NY Times.

  • Bill White Roofing||

    I can't believe my son hasn't thought to sharpen the edges and turn his into a ninja throwing star yet.

  • Best Plumber in Anderson||

    Ninja Star? That would be awesome!!!!

  • momomo||

    Fidget toys are probably one of my favourite things at the moment, I have a few different things on my desk at work to keep my idle hands busy and to stop fiddling with pens or whatever else I can get my hands on. They're also claimed to be good to help with anxiety, autism and ADHD.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online