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McDonald’s Offers Phone Lockers For Families To Spend Gadget-Free Quality Time

From the era of delivering messages through ravens, to the use of letters, then to the introduction of fax machines, and finally to the manufacturing of telephones, one thing can be said- people in the world are not stopping at anything to make the process of communication as seamless and free-flowing as possible.

Speaking of phones and advancements, there was a time phone calls and text messages ruled. The need to wait for endless minutes for a reply you aren’t sure is coming can make a conversation boring and tiring or even cost an individual to miss out on various opportunities. Seeing as this was hampering the communication process, scientists and researchers alike came together to devise a means to make these daily exchanges with people far away faster, and voila! Social media was born.

A scene in “Modern Family” where all family members are glued to their gadgets during dinner.

Fast forward, and it seems like the invention of smartphones and introduction of social media might not be as good an idea as they thought. From daily cases of accidents due to a teenager walk-texting or a driver drive-texting, to news about cases of kidnapping, to family growing distant because they prefer to spend more time tweeting, chatting or ‘surfing’ than they ought to, the question “how can we reduce the rate of addiction of individuals to their various smartphones?” remains unanswered… till McDonald’s devised a way to accomplish this (or so they thought).

In an act that seems more like trying to promote their “Phone off, fun on” campaign than it does rid people of their phone addictions, McDonald’s has installed a trial 100 mobile phone lockers and “parking stations” at one of its outlets in Singapore. The fast-food chain hopes this would offer both parents and children a break from their devices to enable them to relish some family time together with the good old fashioned way instead. Should it be a success, they would implement it in all their outlets worldwide (and perhaps start a chain of restaurants having phone lockers all over the world).

This might seem like a desperate attempt at marketing their services or protect the image of their mouthwatering meals (there have been reports about them saying their customers’ unrelenting Big Mac pics are ruining their dining experience) till you read the facts that 69 percent of adults and 72 percent of children were found to use their phones during meals by a research conducted last month (September) by McDonald’s Singapore outlets.

Customers line up at a McDonald’s branch in Singapore.

While this is straight up a bad eating habit, it is also disheartening to know that most people disregard people around them in favor of their shackle-like phones in their hands,

McDonald’s director of communications and customer care, Linda Ming, told a news station that “As a popular restaurant destination for families, we have observed that the use of mobile devices during meal times may sometimes get in the way of family bonding.”

Watch this McDonald’s ad introducing the “Phone Off, Fun On” initiative.

So Far So Good, How Has the Initiative Fared?

The phone off, fun on a campaign can be said to be faring well, or poorly, depending on which angle you choose to look at it from, and what team you are on (Team phone on or Team phone off).

An empty “Phone Off, Fun On” locker can be seen as a sign that people simply can’t give up their phones.

As you could have guessed if you are well familiar with the way the internet works, McDonald’s “Phone Off, Fun On” campaign is garnering a lot of attention of social media. Not the kind of attention McDonald’s hoped for though, while the lockers go public, the initiative behind the lockers is overlooked. Give customers lockers to store their phones, and they’ll take a picture of those lockers, with said phones and spend the rest of their “family time” sharing said pictures on their various social media platforms.

This act of taking a high social ground is surprising coming from McDonald’s, the fast food chain which has faced its fair share of controversy due to its advertising and marketing tactics to children.

After all, is said and done, it should come as no surprise if, despite McDonald’s’ brilliant innovation, their customers would still rather interact with the vast world of social media during family time than having an enjoyable time with the people physically present before them.

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