Lonely Planet Writer

Singapore McDonald’s wants you to lock up your mobile phone when eating

A McDonald’s outlet in Singapore has introduced special lockers for mobile phones in an effort to encourage diners to log off, set their devices aside and make the most of family time while they eat.

The new initiative, the first of its kind in Singapore, is called, “Phone Off, Fun On” and was introduced recently at McDonald’s Marine Cove flagship restaurant at East Coast Park. A recent survey of 302 parents conducted by McDonald’s last month found that 98% of parents and 91% of children use mobile devices when they are together, with more than two-thirds of respondents using smartphones during mealtimes. The majority of parents surveyed also said that they felt that the use of devices decreased their interaction with loved ones, while three out of four parents expressed their willingness to have better self-discipline in staying offline during family time.

A woman holds a phone up
The project was created in an effort to encourage family time free from devices. Image by Tara Moore

“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 Linda Ming, Director, Brand Communications & Customer Care, McDonald’s Singapore.

The trial has seen the restaurant installing 100 see-through plastic containers that allow users to lock their phones and hold onto the key. Many visitors on social media have commended the experiment, while others stated that they had tried it and failed. The Marine Cove outlet is also piloting table service in an effort to further engage with families, with customers selecting the feature when placing an order at the self-catering kiosks.

Last year a survey was carried out on the habits of travellers, and the results showed that most people would prefer to have their smartphone as a travel companion than a loved one.