Walk into a restaurant, cafe, or hawker centre, and you’re bound to see diners fidgeting with their phones over the course of a meal.
It’s not a phenomenon when smartphone usage holds no barriers – toddlers, teens and adults and the elderly are on it.
But in a bid to help families rediscover quality time together, McDonald’s Singapore has introduced a mobile phone locker and table service at its flagship Marine Cove outlet as part of its latest campaign, reported Channel NewsAsia.
The “Phone Off, Fun On” campaign was spurred on by a survey of 302 parents conducted by McDonald’s last month. It showed that a shocking 98% of parents and 91% of children use their mobile phones whenever they are together.
And more than two out of three respondents use their phones during mealtimes.
Sounds like we might be on our way to becoming smartphone zombies, doesn’t it?
The mobile phone locker allows both parents and children to lock their devices away safely, so that they can focus on family bonding over the course of their meal.
- Instagram post by Stacey Neo
Staff will remind customers to collect their phones before leaving too.
The table service is a small area on the table that is allocated for diners to stack their mobile phones – to prevent them from using it during the meal.
One thing to note though: This is not the first time that the fast food giant has tried to get families to cut back on the phone time during meals.
A similar campaign launched by McDonald’s India back in 2015 encouraged youth to ditch their smartphones for some offline time, but it was a tough ask.
So it is yet to be seen if McDonald’s Singapore’s “Phone Off, Fun On” campaign will make an impact on mobile usage habits here.
“We have introduced the service in our Marine Cove flagship restaurant as well as selected restaurants, and have received positive feedback especially from families so far”, McDonald’s Singapore’s director of brand communications and customer care Ms Linda Ming told CNA.
But it seems that the newest campaign might not be doing so well.
Instagram posts Business Insider found show that not many people are actually putting their phones in the mobile phone lockers.
- Instagram post by Daniel Chong
And that stacking their phones on the table may not actually stop them from using it.
New initiative from Mcd. Parking all mobile phones here to promote family time without distraction. Tried it with my godkids and their parents. Eeeeeer.. failed within 5mins. 😅.. #familyplaydate #phoneofffunon #mcdonaldssg #mcdonalds #familytime #family #kids #sgeats #sgfood #foodie #sgfoodies #sgfoodporn #sgfooddiary #foodsg #foodstagram #foodporn #foodpics #foodlover #instafood #burpple #burpplesg #sgeatout #sgmakandiary #thegrowingbelly #seanfoodtrail #thegoodfatssg
- Instagram post by Sean Loo
But perhaps we just need to give people some time to warm up to the idea of not seeing their phones for the course of an entire meal.