Fidget spinners went from being a toy to treat autism to a stress relieving sensation. With so many different shapes, sizes, and colors, these little toys have been a craze among children and adults of all ages. Not to mention they are showing up everywhere, from grocery to dollar stores. The question that has finally been starting to be asked is, are fidget spinners dangerous?

I was first introduced to fidget spinners by my younger children. I had no idea what they were, but one day they asked me, “mom, can you buy us a fidget spinner?” They showed me the different ones they wanted on Amazon and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I have to admit, I was so intrigued by all the designs and colors that I even wanted one. From that day forward I started to see them in all kinds of YouTube videos and discovered there true use…

What Are Fidget Spinners?

“Fidget spinners” are small devices that contain ball-bearings (similar to skateboards) which allows them to spin or rotate between your fingers. Many Spinners were originally marketed as aids for individuals with anxiety, autism, and ADHD. Some retailers also have made claims that the fidget spinner has health benefits such as easing stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But is there any science to these claims?

Fidget spinners were not created by a scientist in a lab after hours of studying the effects of the toy for those with ADHD, autism, or PTSD. In fact, the original fidget spinner design was created by a woman by the name of Catherine Hettinger in the UK.

Hettinger was inspired after hearing about boys throwing rocks at people and police on a trip visiting her sister in Israel. She started thinking of a device that could distract young children while providing something soothing to play with. She came up with the idea one summer in the 1990s while looking after her daughter who was a sufferer of myasthenia gravis, a rare, long-term condition that causes muscles weakness.

After upgrading her prototype she began selling it at local fairs and in 1997 she flew to Washington to patent her design. She also had a deal with the toy company Hasbro that eventually fell through. After that, her project stalled and then disappeared and in 2005 she could not afford to renew her patent.

So if science did not create this toy, does science back its claims?

There is a study from 1995 that showed boys with ADHD who fidgeted while squirming instead of sitting showed greater attention to tasks. A 2016 study also showed children with ADHD could do better on a task that required attention when they were allowed to fidget.

However, fidget spinners are not exactly the same as the fidgeting techniques used for children with ADHD.

Let me explain.

Experts believe engaging in a task that uses a sense other than the one used for a primary task (like listening to music while doing homework) can enhance focus.

Fidget spinners, however, require hand and eye coordination. The children most hold the fidget spinners between the fingers or on their fingers as they spin and balance them. This will allow for distraction but does not allow you to perform other tasks at the same time. They may provide more benefits than just being a fad, but more studies will have to be done.

Are fidget spinners dangerous?

Now on to the question we have been waiting for, are fidget spinners dangerous?

When I purchased my children’s first fidget spinners I was surprised with the amount available on Amazon. We were scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. As I mentioned earlier this was my first time being exposed to them.

We ended up getting some fidget spinner from China and had to wait weeks to receive them, and one of the ones we got was not good quality. I didn’t pay attention to where I purchased it from, I was just excited to get it for my children because they were excited. One, in particular, was unbalanced and the bearings were almost coming out of the toy, my son had to constantly push them back in.

My son(who is 14) was very disappointed because not only did he have to wait so long to get it, he knew I had bought a poor quality version.

Trading standards have warned that poor quality fidget spinners are actually dangerous to children who can choke on small parts. Some of the toys even have sharp edges which can become lethal. Some light up so they contain button batteries which can cause internal burn injuries if ingested.

After reports of swallowing incidents from parents, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced in May they would be taking a closer look at the safety issues.

Engineers at Good Housekeeping also tested a bunch of brand name and knock off fidget spinners and found that pieces broke off classifying them as choke hazards for children under three.  They recommend these precautions:

  • Check for small parts. 
  • Get rid of broken toys.
  • Read the labeling.
  • Supervise your children under 6.
  • Register your product.
  • Notify the CPSC with any problems.

Conclusion

Fidget spinner manufacturers make claims to these toys being good for things like stress, autism, ADHD, and PTSD, however, there is not enough scientific proof to back up these claims. Although we don’t have enough scientific proof of the benefits of fidget spinners, one thing that can not be denied is these little toys are fun. Adults and children alike enjoy them. They are inexpensive and you can take them with you anywhere. But just because they are popular doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be cautious.

As a mother, making sure the items our children play with are safe is a first priority. Choking is a leading cause of death in small children especially under four, according to the CSPC.

So whether your children already have fidget spinners or you are thinking about purchasing them use precautions and always supervise your smaller children. Talk with your older children to make sure they understand the risk. 

If you have any experiences with fidget spinners please feel free to share them in the comment section below. Any feedback is welcome!

 

16 thoughts on “Are Fidget Spinners Dangerous? What Parents Should Know”

  1. Melissa,

    First of all, I love the picture with the cat chewing on a fidget spinner. As a “Gampa”, I have fidget spinner experience galore. I am continually amazed at all the different varieties, and of course, my grandkids want almost every one of them. My 5 yr old grandson loves his red one, but likes the lighted ones also. They are fun and fairly harmless, but as you mentioned, there can also be a huge difference in quality. I would recommend if trying a new source for your fidget spinners, buy one, then check it out before buying more. Especially online, where you cannot really touch it and look at it up close. I think Good Housekeeping has it right. You always need to pay attention to your children’s (especially under 6) toys to make sure they remain safe. Thank you for this article, it was interesting and fun.
    ** Terry **

    1. Thank you Terry for sharing! They are very fun and there are some amazing designs, some even I want for myself. I am glad that Good Housekeeping and others are educating parents on the safety issues. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment and I am glad you liked the article!
      Melissa:)

  2. Hello Melissa. I liked the history part. Very interesting that they didn’t catch up 10 years ago. I’ve noticed that fidget spinners are a thing today but never owned one or desired one. Maybe because my children are too young (3,5 years) to be interested in such things. Also, it never occurred to me that they can break so easily. They don’t seem that complicated to make, at least in my eyes. Good read, thank you.

    1. Hi Marek, I was surprised to hear they break too. It was scary though that the bearings were coming out of the one I bought so I know for sure little kids could swallow them. Some of them you can actually take apart and change the bearings so you have to be really careful. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I had no idea that fidget spinners could be so dangerous, but it makes sense when you look at all the small parts they have. Small parts can break off and it’s just a matter of a toddler coming along and putting it in their mouths. This is a great topic and definitely something that has to be looked into more. Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Brandon, I have to be honest even when I bought them, I had no idea of the stories that were happening. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Thank you for your post and your advise, I didn’t know these spinners treat psychological problems before, I thought it’s just a piece of toy for having fun and releasing stress, but yes I agree there should be strict instructions for use especially for kids under 4.
    Your article was helpful!

    1. Hi Rawan,
      I am glad you found the post useful. Though it is claimed to treat psychological problems we will have to hopefully wait for more science to help prove how helpful they really are. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Thanks for sharing! It was interesting to read. I agree that parents need to be careful and make sure that their children toys are safe.
    The most important thing is that stress relief toys like fidget spinners help people, and I don’t think that we need scientific proof.
    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Linda,
      I agree they definitely do help. I only think the scientific proof is needed when companies make such claims and not the consumers. But I would buy them without it and just make sure I purchased safer toys and helped others know to do the same. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Great article! I have heard about these but didn’t know too much about them. I feel so informed now! 🙂

  7. Very interesting history on this little toy. I didn’t know how useful fidget spinners could be until I read this article. I thought they were just little toys that kids like to play with. Sometime ago there was a warning on the news about their safety, because a child accidentally swallowed a broken piece while playing with one. The recommended precautions from Good Housekeeping are great reminders for all toys.

    1. Yes, you are right, the precautions are a great reminder for all toys. Thank you for reading the article and commenting!

  8. I find fidget spinners terribly distracting when other people are using them. What’s so wrong with good old-fashioned fidgeting? I’m a foot shaker. sometimes a leg shaker, but mostly a foot shaker. Then again, anything that can help someone regulate emotions and attention is PROBABLY a net positive, if people take the precautions you suggest. thanks!

    1. I am a pen fidgeter lol. I still keep my pen so I see nothing wrong with good ole fidgeting. I think some of the toys are just away to provide more of a challenge. I don’t think they are meant for all ages but you know how trends are, everyone wants them. Thanks for the comment!

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