Kids In Small Towns Gather at McDonald’s to Complete Homework Assignments

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For some kids, homework can come with a side of french fries. McDonald’s 12,000 Wi-Fi equipped restaurants in the U.S. make the chain one of the biggest wireless hotspots in the country.

For children of the small town of Citronelle, Alabama, McDonald’s has become their go-to place to do homework. The Citronelle McDonald’s is one of the only places where kids in town can get access to the Internet for free.

“We do have some students who use those access points to complete homework assignments, to do research,” says Citronelle High School Principal Richard Dickson.

This is a trend that can be spotted around the country as schools increasingly rely on online teaching tools, but high-speed Internet access is far from universal.

“When I went to he library, it was actually closed, so I had to go to McDonald’s to start the paper,” said high school student Lacy Victoria.

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, found that 96 percent of families with at least $75,000 or greater of income had high-speed Internet access at home. But only 66 percent of families with $30,000 or less of income had high-speed Internet access at home.

“A student who only has access here at school, they only have limited time to develop a digital project where a student at home has more time and they can put more bells and whistles,” says Burns Middle School Principal John Adams, in Mobile, Alabama.

Although McDonald’s provides free Internet, some students find that it’s not always the best place to do their assignments.

“We’ve got projects due all the time, and they all require Internet access, whether it’s an online lab or just looking up an essay,” says Citronelle High School student Tiffany Davis. “I have gone to the local McDonald’s that we have and it’s Internet. It’s fast and it’s convenient, but there’s always the problem of the noise and can you concentrate on what you’re doing?”

McDonald’s has few complaints of the arrangement. The company says Wi-Fi enhances the customer experience, including for its youngest guests.

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