August 17, 2007

Consumer Reports: Keep All Magnetic Toys Out Of Houses With Young Children


One of the kid's favorite toys is Magna-Tiles. She plays with them every day. They're awesome. They spread like an irresistible marketing virus from playdate to playdate, from cousin to cousin. Not counting the dozen or so folks each month who end up ordering Magna-Tiles through DT, I can think of ten people easy who found out about and bought the magnetic building tiles from us.

They seem really well made and not easily breakable. They haven't been recalled. We only play with them in supervised settings. The kid doesn't put things in her mouth anyway. But as a guy who used to feed his little brother and sister pennies with the line, "Take your Geritol!" the possibility of a kid ingesting magnets is kind of freaking me out.

Consumer Reports reiterated its recommendation yesterday to keep all magnetic toys out of the house if there are young children around. Someone at Consumerist linked to the to the Chicago Tribune's outraged expose' of the CPSC's slow, impotent, muddled, defensive actions in the Magnetix recall saga.

Now I'm wondering what the term is for this kind of escalating parental anxiety coupled with inaction, since it's not like we're throwing out all the Magna-Tiles this instant or anything.

Latest toy recall raises additional concern over magnets []
Part 1: Toy magnets kill young boy
Part 2: Inside the botched recall of a dangerous toy [chicagotribune]
Related: conscientious retailer and non-recalled magnetic toy mfr talk about Magnetix []

Previously: Boy, does the kid love her Magna-Tiles


I'm really having some trouble with this whole danger-danger-recall stuff, on the toy front, at least. Your "inaction" seems completely appropriate to me -- you're supervising, you don't have younger kids in the house, maybe you have hardwood floors so small magnets can't be easily hidden. Anyway, you're present, so you're going to see if anything breaks. And your kid doesn't put stuff in her mouth.

I don't think I'd be tossing the Magna-Tiles, either. Neither our toddler nor our baby was ever unsupervised, which minimized -- but didn't eliminate -- the hazards in her life. Paying attention and exercising common sense goes a long way toward keeping kids safe.

Yeah, I agree, there should be some minimum level of safety standards, but I don't know how you protect people from themselves. If the government -- or a manufacturer -- says something is appropriate for a certain age level, and parents disregard the recommendations and make their own call to the detriment of the kids, who's responsible? If parents don't recognize the inherent hazards of certain toys -- or of broken toys -- and let kids play with them, whose fault is it?

It's terrible when young children are unsupervised -- one way or another -- and end up severely injured or worse, but how is that the fault of the toy? Or the furniture that falls on them? Or the chemical they ingest?

Bottom line, parenting is hard and requires a ton of thought and care, 24/7. I guess my gut feeling is that if you're depending on the government -- or a vast toy industry -- to keep your kid safe, you're probably way out of luck, and likely to end up with some kind of rude awakening.

I'm not at all sure where the regulatory lines should be drawn, but I'm pretty sure I trust me way before I trust the government, Magna-whoever, Mattel, or Consumer Reports.

I'm just as happy to have the input from any or all of said entities, but in the end, I'm the one who has to make the call. I'm the only one who knows the kid and has the ability to predict the likely consequences.

I dunno, this is kind of exciting -- my big chance to get rid of all our accumulated My Little Ponies!

We've been feeling much the same way, and while there are no magna-tiles in our house (as of yet), if there were, I don't think they'd be going anywhere either. Our reasoning is pretty much like Curator said. Our girl is 16mos old, and she is never unsupervised. She has very few toys that contain magnets anyway. She does have some thomas trains (magnets and lead? double d'oh!), though none of hers were mentioned in the recall. I twist and pull on the train magnets every few days just to make sure they're still good and tight. We've thrown out some of our more fragile fridge magnets... Still, It's evident that many parents will get so worked up over this magnet thing that they'll ignore basic common sense. You can remove every single, solitary magnet from every possession in your home...and your child might still hurt themselves on something else.

Give it time. A parent will invent a football-style toddler helmet with a magnet face grill that catches (or repels) all magnets within 3 inches of the head.

[hannibal lecter-style. can't wait. -ed.]

Wouldn't the Lecter-style toddler helmet with a magnet face grill have a it?

No, I think we'll all be much happier when we encase our children in Lucite. Or possibly carbonite. It's for their own good.

[and for easy transport. -ed.]

I think it's mainly the tiny rare earth magnets that are super dangerous for kids. Magna tile magnets don't strike me as something a child wouldst likely swallow, but I do agree that supervision is important as with any other toy

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