Picture this: My family is out to dinner at a busy restaurant and I’m trying to persuade my 6-year-old to eat her greens. I glance around and notice that at every other table, children are behaving way better than mine. Then I notice why: each child is holding a tablet or phone, not engaging in conversation with their parents whatsoever.
Whatever happened to quality family time at the dinner table?
Turns out McDonald’s has been thinking the same thing. The segment of the fast food chain located in Singapore has come up with a genius idea to keep families from being glued to their phones — a campaign called “Phone Off, Fun On”. The restaurant has installed clear lockers where diners can store their devices for the duration of their meal. Families are then free to focus on spending time together while they eat … instead of checking their text messages.
“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,” said Singapore’s Director of Brand Communications & Customer Care, Linda Ming in a press release obtained by Babble.
A survey conducted by McDonald’s last month further proved this statement. They questioned 302 parents and found that 98 percent of parents and 91 percent of kids are distracted by using their mobile device when they are with their families.
Not surprisingly, 60 percent of the parents interviewed agreed that the use of mobile devices during family time has lessened their interactions with loved ones.
Ming added, “A recent survey we carried out found that parents are willing to develop better self-discipline in terms of mobile usage and put their families first. Based on our findings, we believe these new initiatives in our restaurants will nudge families towards rediscovering quality time together.”
The McDonald’s phone lockers hold up to 100 phones and are available for use at no extra cost. Additionally, staff will be on hand to remind diners to retrieve their phones before they leave, so you never have to worry about leaving your beloved device behind by accident.
Still, I can’t help but wonder: Will parents actually use the lockers? Or will they begin to enjoy their burgers and McNuggets and then suddenly cave and unlock their locker to retrieve their phone? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
In spite of this possibility, I applaud McDonald’s thinking. My 11-year-old son recently got his first phone and the amount of messages he gets is staggering. When I am with him, I often put his phone in a drawer so we can actually talk without the constant distraction of his phone buzzing. And you know what? It’s nice. We have a real conversation before we both admittedly return to our devices.
These lockers provide a foolproof way to keep your phone locked safely away so you can have meaningful conversations with your family. Honestly, I’m considering getting one for our home!
Sadly, the lack of focus and conversation is nothing new in our society. A 2013 survey found that families are spending just over 30 minutes of quality time together during the week due to the hectic demands of modern life. In total, the survey revealed that parents and kids spent only eight hours together across an entire week. It’s clear we really need something like these phone lockers in more restaurants across the globe.
Imagine, a meal where we actually converse with our kids? Now that’s a true happy meal.
h/t: The Daily Mail UK