Kelsey

McDonald’s happy meals just aren’t the same

Sep 23 • Opinion • 1511

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I was taking apart my baby sister’s Happy Meal Friday – because my dad believes in great nutrition and we couldn’t take our dog to a real restaurant –  when I noticed the toy came with a sheet that said something about an app.

An app?  Rachel is a year and half old.  What happened to the good old days when kids were content to play with nothing but a colorful hunk of plastic?

I remember asking for Happy Meals after ballet classes, eating half a burger and getting right to the toy.

We didn’t eat enough McDonald’s to collect all variations of said toys, but we had a pretty good collection.

Dad took the time one year to have the Easter Bunny line up the characters in a parade on the coffee table.  My sister Carly and I knocked it down, but there’s a picture somewhere proving he was up late that night.

Carly was probably about Rachel’s age when that happened.  I’ve seen six other kids play with traditional McDonald’s toys until now.

I realize I am a different generation.  There were no smartphones.  No touch screens.  No apps.

It’s probably a lot worse for my parents.  They watched technology come in but they didn’t grow up with it changing.

’90s kids grew up playing hopscotch and solitaire on their parents’ PC when it got dark.  At least that’s what I did.  I can’t imagine what technology Rachel’s going to see evolve.

There was a commercial for Windows or something recently that used the concept as advertising.  It was saying new millennials are surrounded by screens and want to communicate with them, not just through them.

It was cute, but I’m not sure I want Siri to laugh at my jokes.  I’d rather laugh at “her.”

My friends and I swear back and forth that by the time we have kids we are going to treat them the same way we were treated growing up, as in no phones until they are teenagers.

As much as we like the idea of holding our own children to the standards we grew up with, times change as fast as circuit boards do and we have no idea what parenting is going to be like by 2020.

Maybe there will be screens put in cribs. Maybe strollers will fly.  Maybe we’ll end up starting our kids on phones by age 3.

There’s already a clock-style smartphone manufactured for kids in Japan.  If those catch on, Rachel will be asking for one in a couple years.  If she doesn’t ask for a phone first.

I don’t know why I connect getting a phone with losing innocence, but a thumb-sized button to the Internet seems good enough reason.  That’s why the Happy Meal app upset me so much.

How are kids supposed to enjoy their childhood when fast food is jumping on the smartphone train?  It’s not enough to put a cheap toy with fast food without connecting it to a screen.

I suppose I missed the memo about when fun was a term that only applied to electronics.  That, and I just can’t bear to think about how old Rachel will be when she starts using apps.

 

KELSEY GHERING

ghering001@knights.gannon.edu

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