NEW YORK — Nothing ruins lunchtime conversations more than a smartphone.
And McDonald’s thinks it has a way to combat our modern addiction.
The fast food chain has recently introduced mobile phone lockers in one of its branches in Singapore, encouraging diners to take a break from the virtual world and have real conversations over meals.
Named the “Phone off. Fun On.” campaign, the first 100 transparent lockers are installed in the McDonald’s Marine Cove outlet.
According to a survey of 302 parents conducted by McDonald’s in Singapore, most (98%) say they use their mobile device whenever they’re with family and more than two-thirds of them admitted using smartphones during meals. Most parents also said their kids use their phone during family time.
“This ‘Phone Off, Fun On’ initiative is part of our efforts to advocate family togetherness and encourage families to spend quality time together,” Linda Ming, director of McDonald’s Singapore’s brand communications and customer care, tells CNN.
Although the campaign primarily targets families, the service is free for anyone to use.
According to a survey released earlier this year, about 70% of 12-year-olds in Singapore use a phone. They spend, on average, 6.5 hours daily on electronic devices.
It’s not the first time restaurants have tried to discourage mobile phone usage during meals.
Earlier this month, a restaurant in southern France made the news by banning diners from using their mobile phones. Waiters would blow a whistle and show a yellow card when someone was caught using a phone.
McDonald’s said it was gathering feedback at the Marine Cove branch before deciding whether to expand the service to other outlets.