After looking over the viral videos of the last couple weeks it would appear that the new holiday tradition around the world is people young and old taking horrible spills off their new hoverboard gifts. While at first glance these images are kind of funny, the more you think about it these devices seem dangerous almost as the norm. It kind of makes you wonder why the product became so popular this holiday season – especially with the latest reports of the boards seemingly catching fire, or spontaneously combusting, while sitting alone in the corner of the room.

It may seem like a gift to purchase when family reunion planning to give to your deadbeat uncle, but to borrow a line from Jerry Seinfeld, “What’s really the deal with these hoverboards?”

How do Hoverboards Work?

First of all, the hoverboards technically ‘hover’ in namesake only. They are grounded by two wheels on each end that essentially give the same type of control as a unicycle. The motor of the boards is found in the wheels which also detects tilt and speed. The motors communicate with the body of the board which contains a gyroscope that works based of the 0° setting, or flat.

Users operate the board by switching out of the 0° position by leaning forward and backwards. If you lean ahead far, the motor reacts by spinning faster and somewhat ‘catching up’ to your leaning body. Since the hoverboards are still an advancing technology, the devices still have limitations – especially when Uncle Carl creates a video for the front page of your family reunion website.

What’s the Appeal of the Devices?

The ‘hoverboards’ have been referred to as ‘electric scooters’, ‘mini segways’, and ‘hands free bikes’ which is why they are popular – they are fun to ride. Combine that with celebrities flooding Instagram with images of themselves on the objects and the timing of an increased production run (meme-facturing) to coincide with popularity and the Christmas holiday and it seems like tiny bowtie shaped boards are everywhere.

Are They Really Dangerous?

Any item that you aren’t comfortable operating could be deemed dangerous whether that be a skateboard, a bike, or a car – so yes, the hoverboards can be considered a risky ride. Operators must demonstrate incredible balance as well as good hand-eye (or foot-eye) coordination to effectively control the device. There are no handles or poles to assist in operation as the hoverboard is essentially controlled via the rider’s center of gravity. Extreme caution should be considered before purchasing for your family and protective gear should be worn by all who ride.

Then there’s the fact that they blow up out of the blue to consider as well.

Michael Peggs is the founder of content marketing agency and SEO agencyMarccx Media, where they specialize in SEO and Content Marketing. Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships. He is also a blogger and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy podcast You University – The Personal Branding Podcast.