Common Sense Kids Action

If you sign up as an advocate:

  • Common Sense Kids Action will send you periodic email alerts on legislative activity that impacts your community;
  • You will have the opportunity to share your actions and these issues with your friends by sending them Common Sense Kids Action alerts and issues;
  • Common Sense Kids Action may share with like-minded coalitions working on behalf of children the email address and/or zip code that you provided to us when you signed up to participate in Common Sense Kids Action.

You may unsubscribe from receiving emails from Common Sense Kids Action at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of all Common Sense Kids Action emails. If you unsubscribe, we will delete your information. Please note that unsubscribing from Common Sense Kids Action emails will not unsubscribe you from receiving emails or information from other coalitions and organizations with whom Common Sense Kids Action may have already shared your information, and will not delete your information from those groups. Further, unsubscribing from Common Sense Kids Action emails will not unsubscribe you from other Common Sense Media emails that you have previously asked to receive.

McDonald's, Marketing, and a Mom's Dilemma

Ingrid Simone Senior Editor, Apps | Mom of two Categories: Marketing to Kids
Senior Editor, Apps | Mom of two

McDonald's recently launched a new marketing campaign aimed at little kids. The company put Ronald McDonald to work in TV ads that encourage kids to visit And not long after McDonald's went live with the campaign, an advocacy group wrote an open letter asking the company to retire Ronald and put an end to the company's marketing to kids.

With all the attention focused on the issue, we knew that parents would want more information on -- as well as McWorld, a McDonald's-themed virtual world -- so I assigned these sites to be reviewed.

Full disclosure: I'm a vegetarian. My kids are vegetarians. I even got them Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson's Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food (essentially, Fast Food Nation for kids).

And one more thing: My kids sometimes eat at McDonald's. They're sucked in by the toys, and they love the fries. They've never actually eaten the meat (they order cheese sandwiches), but still, they get Happy Meals, toys and all.

So how does a vegetarian editor who wants to provide a fair assessment of McDonald's kids' sites reconcile that with the facts that a) even though my kids eat there, I have problems with the impact that fast food has on kids' health and b) as a parent, I find this kind of marketing to kids frustrating, difficult to combat, and a little bit sneaky?

By shifting the focus from my experience to what parents need to know. We evaluated the websites for what they are: a big corporation's marketing tools that -- at least in the case of McWorld -- are actually pretty well done. You'll notice that reviewer Erin Brereton thought McWorld was a "visually impressive," "pretty safe," and even educational virtual world, hence the 4-star rating.

But we believe that parents should know exactly what these sites are about, so neither nor is "On" for younger kids. They're both a "Pause" to alert parents that they'll want to dig a little deeper into the sites and decide, based on knowing their children and their family's stance on fast food and marketing to kids, whether it's OK for their family. (Get extra help in guiding your children through the world of online advertising and selling to kids with more useful tips.)

As for me, I recognize that living in today's world means balancing seemingly contradictory ideas. I'm sure I'll still treat my kids occasionally to McDonald's, while I continue to teach them to recognize marketing come-ons and make smart decisions about nutrition. And because every family is different, at Common Sense Media we strive to get you the information you need to make the best decision for your family.

About Ingrid Simone

Ingrid joined Common Sense Media in 2010, bringing more than 15 years as an editor and writer, a passion for providing quality content focused on kids, and a love of most things digital. She earned a bachelor’s degree... Read more

Add comment

Sign in or sign up to share your thoughts