Young consumers in fast food restaurants: technology, toys and family time

Kellershohn, J., Walley, K., West, B., Vriesekoop, F. and Young, B. (2018) Young consumers in fast food restaurants: technology, toys and family time. Young Consumers.

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Purpose An ethnographic study of families with children (at least one child ≥2 to ≤12 years old) in fast food restaurants, to further the understanding of in-restaurant family behaviours. Design/methodology/approach An unobtrusive, direct observational study of family fast food restaurant behaviour including use of mobile technology, toys, and indoor play area. Ordering and dining behaviours include field notes and enumeration of activity times for 300 families (450 children). Findings The food ordering process was rapid (<6 minutes), during which personal technology use was minimal, and adult/child interactions were perfunctory. Visits averaged 53 minutes and only 18 minutes on average were spent eating. Families were observed using the fast food restaurant as a ‘third place’ (home away from home) for many activities other than eating food. In-restaurant family behaviours included frequent use of technology (40 % of children/ 70 % of adults), use of the indoor play area (65% of children/ 33 minutes of play) and child engagement with a toy (53% of children/10 minutes of play). Originality/value Studying how time is spent in fast food restaurants expands our knowledge of current family eating behaviors and how young consumers behave in restaurants (i.e. with restaurant-provided activities, toys and indoor play spaces). Shifts in dining practices, from the intrusion of technology during the meal (technoference) to a decline in the use of restaurant-provided toys, were noted. Dining visits now include many non-food activities and the dining time in the restaurant was not a time for extensive family conversations or interactions, but rather a public home away from home.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Parents, Health, Children, Fast Food, Branding, Food Choice, Card Sort, McDonald’s
Divisions: Food, Land and Agribusiness Management
Depositing User: Ms Kath Osborn
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2018 16:40
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 11:30

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