Meanwhile, Local Teachers Say Fidget Spinner Craze Becoming Major Classroom DistractionBy David Highfield

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A warning about the most popular craze with kids right now: fidget spinners. A mom in Texas posted a story on Facebook that’s getting a lot of attention.

Kelly Rose Joniec’s 10-year-old daughter, Britton, apparently put part of a fidget spinner in her mouth to clean it and somehow swallowed it.

Joniec posted the cautionary story on Facebook, and it’s now been shared nearly three quarters of a million times.

She writes that her daughter was in the back seat, when she heard her making an odd noise.

“Looking back in the mirror, I saw her face turning red and drool pouring from her mouth,” according to the Facebook post.

She includes a frightening x-ray that shows the bearing from the spinner lodged in the girl’s esophagus.

The Heimlich maneuver didn’t work, so she rushed her daughter for help. She underwent surgery at a children’s hospital to have the spinner part removed.

Some spinners do have choking warnings on the boxes. One spinner a KDKA newsroom employee bought contains a warning that it’s not meant for children under 3-years-old.

“They’re great for their intended purpose, but you really need to be careful,” said Deb Tandy, the owner of a Learning Express toy store in Texas.

She says not all spinners are made the same, and that ones sold at gas stations and malls may not hold together as ones sold at actual toy stores.

“We do not have removable bearings in our spinners,” said Tandy. “The bearings are fixed in place, and it would take tools to remove them.”

As for the 10-year-old girl, she’s doing okay, but it’s too soon to say if there’s any permanent damage.

Meanwhile, a growing number of school districts complain students are bringing them to school and using them inappropriately.

“It was no longer something just to help them to focus but it was how long can we keep it spinning, can we stick it on our nose, how long will it stay on my forehead, etc.,” Allegheny Intermediate Unit program director Roseanne Javorsky said.

KDKA’s Jon Delano Reports:

Javorsky has heard from teachers who are now confiscating fidget spinners in the classroom.

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Javorsky: Many teachers have drawers full of those fidget spinners.

Delano: Drawers full?

Javorsky: Drawers full of fidget spinners.

It’s a growing problem, according to Propel teacher Krista Frederick.

Frederick: Some of them will be focused and some of them will be very off task. Depends on the class. Depends on the student.

Delano: Have you found that sometimes they can be a distraction from the instruction?

Frederick: Yes.

Kara Eckert, director of instruction at Mars Area School District, said so far it’s not a big problem at her district, but sometimes is frustrating.

“Students are more interested in seeing how long their spinner will turn than listening to what the teacher is saying in class,” she said.

The key, according to Javorsky, is for teachers to set down clear rules.

“I think if you talk to any teachers or teachers gathering and say, tell me about fidget spinners, they’ll go, ‘oh yeah, let me tell you about fidget spinners.’ So it is becoming an issue, but I think most teachers are trying to get ahead of it, putting their classroom rules in place. And most kids will follow classroom rules,” she said.

David Highfield