The 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.)