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Fidget Spinners Pose Threat To Kids, Watchdog Group Says

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CBS News CBS News

Fidgets may harbor hidden dangers for children, a watchdog group is warning.

The wildly popular toy made the annual list of unsafe summer playthings on Wednesday issued by the Boston-based World Against Toys Causing Harm. W.A.T.C.H.'s list highlights potentially hazardous items that parents should avoid.

Authorities in Germany said last week they plan to destroy tons of the tiny twirling gadgets that have been confiscated by customs agents. They said they tested the toys, which arrived from China, and found that bits could fall off and pose possible choking hazards for small children.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating several incidents involving the toys. A number of children have needed surgery after small parts got stuck in their throats.

Fidget spinners were first designed to help children with concentration and to reduce fidgeting, although they picked up in popularity as a toy. Many different versions and designs have appeared as manufacturers sought to get in on the fad, with the TSA even singling out one design as "a weapon."

Instead of helping kids concentrate, the toys tended to distract students at school, some educators said. A survey of 200 largest schools in the U.S. found about one-third of them had banned the toy.

"Because it's a distraction we are no longer allowing them in school and if they do bring them to school, we will take them, hold on to them and then give them back at the end of the day," John McDonald, assistant principal at Delano Elementary School in Minnesota, told CBS Evening News earlier this year.

Some fidget spinners sell for only a few dollars, while the most expensive gadgets can fetch a few hundred dollars.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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