If you didn’t already get a set of the endless fun known as Buckyballs, it may too be late, as they’re coming off of shelves (although as of this writing, you can still buy them online). The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is suing Maxfield & Oberton, makers of the powerful magnets, due to 20 cases over the last four years of children swallowing them. The packaging and promotional materials for Buckyballs clearly state that, like many great things in life, they are not intended for children. Of course, the CPSC notice is quick to point out the critical problems that happen between the ages of 13 and 14: “The high powered magnets sets were labeled ‘Ages 13+’ and do not meet the mandatory toy standard F963-08 (effective August 17, 2009) which requires that such powerful magnets are not sold for children under 14.”
In a statement from Maxfield & Oberton, Craig Zucker, founder and CEO said, “We are deeply disappointed that the CPSC has decided to go after our firm–and magnets in general. Magnets have been around for centuries and are used for all sorts of purposes. Our products are marketed to those 14 and above and out of over half a billion magnets in the market place CPSC has received reports of less than two-dozen cases of misuse. We worked with the Commission in order to do an education video less than 9 months ago, so we are shocked they are taking this action. We find it unfair, unjust and un-American.”
Here’s a call for some common sense in parenting. If you didn’t already know that strong magnets post a significant danger to children, the Buckyballs box warns you that it is not for children. (Also, if you didn’t know about magnet dangers, you should watch House.) Do we really need the CPSC to tell us what we can and can’t have? Let’s ponder what could be banned next:
Balloons. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the defining birthday party decoration kills more children than anything besides bicycles. They are doom on a string.
Everything with wheels. That is, the stuff that kills more kids than balloons. It’s time to say, “Yes!” to a childhood free from the tyranny of bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and Big Wheels.
Electrical outlets. Look at them. They even look at you with a face of terror that practically says, “Stick that metal fork in my mouth!” (Unless you live in Denmark, in which case your outlets invite you to electrocution much more cheerfully.) Gotta get rid of them. Candlelight is so much better for your new steampunk decor plan anyway.
Doors. This one’s personal. I slammed my hand in a door fifteen years ago, and one of the fingernails has never been quite right since. Might as well ban the things before they cause more harm to me or others.
Laptop batteries. Hooooo doggy. Those regular old C- and D-cells that powered every toy of our childhoods were bad enough. But do you know what kind of dangers await you under those little plastic keys you’re probably resting your hands on right now? Do you? If not, I’ll let XKCD explain.
Lego. There is no greater terror to the safety of your feet and staying upright than Lego bricks left on the floor after dark. Wait–there is one greater terror. The threat so great, it needs only two characters to be named: D4.
The day star. Let’s be honest. We’ve all been sunburned. It hurts. And that thing causes cancer. It’s time to ban the sun. We can find other sources of light, heat, and warmth.
Can we start exercising some rationality as parents? If you’re afraid something is a danger to you or your family, don’t buy it. And if it’s a desktop toy or even something you really need that isn’t appropriate for children, keep it away from them. You’re still chopping your vegetables with knives, and your children have survived, right?
Remember. You can take our Kinder Eggs, but you can’t take our freeeeeeeedom! Now somebody pass me a Brawndo.