What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that HappyMeal.com is an activity and game site from McDonald's. The site heavily promotes the fast food chain, and features Ronald McDonald and Happy Meal toys (and movies, TV shows, etc., related to the toys). Kids don't need to register or log in to play most of the games and activities. However, to submit high game scores or customize your experience (by saving your favorite activities and creating a personal homepage of sorts), registration is required.
Is it any good?
Some parents may cringe at the thought of encouraging their kids to spend time on a fast food chain's website. And it's true: The videos on HAPPYMEAL.COM are McDonald's commercials, and many of the site's most inventive features -- such as the function that lets kids mock up a photo with Ronald McDonald or create a customized video in which Ronald holds up a banner bearing their friend's name -- are definitely marketing-centric. On the upside, the site does place an emphasis on safety. Kids can submit shout-outs that run in a site ticker tape or customize their Ronald photo with words but can't key in their own phrases -- pre-selected ones like "Fun times!" are all that are available. You also don't need to register or sign in to use most of the site, and kids can access general info on eating a balanced diet.
If you allow your kids to visit HappyMeal.com, consider limiting the amount of time your kids spend on the site, and explain that it's promotionally based.
Online interaction: Users have the option of sending a link to the various site activities to a friend by clicking on a button. According to a placeholder on the site, a safe chat function is also coming soon.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how advertisers try to sell to kids. Does playing with the games and activities on this site make you want to eat at McDonald's more -- or make you want the toys featured in its Happy Meals more? Do you feel like the site is advertising things for you to buy?
McDonald's is known for its burgers, fries, and other foods -- yet its site also has information about vegetables, fruits, and eating a balanced diet. Is it possible to enjoy foods like cheeseburgers and still eat healthily?
The site features several ways for you to send links to the activities, videos, and other items to friends. If someone sends you a link to a website, how do you know that it's a safe site to visit? Should you ever click on links that come from people you don't know?