Not Loving It: Young Students Forced to Go to McDonalds for WiFi After Libraries Close

Wifi... would you like fries with that?

By Jorge Rivas Feb 12, 2013

In many parts of the country if your local library is closed and you need internet access, McDonalds may the only option you have.

There’s about 15,000 Wi-Fi-enabled public libraries in the country but after they close many young people with homework have to go to businesses that have free internet access.

McDonald’s restaurants are usually open late and the fast food chain has more than 12,000 Wi-Fi-equipped locations in the U.S., and for many black, Latino and rural children that’s where their connection to the Web lives.

Mary LaValle, a librarian from Harrison, Mich., told the Washington Post she often sees many students just move to the nearby McDonalds after her library closes at 6pm. She said the kids usually buy one drink and continue refilling it all night until their done with their homework.

Advocates say with black and Latino kids already at high risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, many children are trading their health for Internet access.

The Media Action Grassroots Network and the Praxis Project have teamed up to launch a petition and use memes, twitter parties, and other social media strategies during Valentine’s Day Week to urge the Federal Communications Commission to expand free public WiFi throughout the country!

"Our communities shouldn’t be forced to sacrifice our health and wellbeing to connect to this essential communications service," reads the group’s letter addressed to the commisioner and chairman of FCC. "We urge you to reform the universal service fund in ways that actually helps to bridge this divide, always considering the potentially devastating impact that being disconnected has on customers who lack affordable broadband, and who cannot obtain mobile wireless services provided on equitable terms."

A third of households with income of less than $30,000 a year and teens living at home don’t have broadband access, according to the Pew Research Center.

Check out the memes the Media Action Grassroots Network and the Praxis Project created for the campaign below and take a look at their petition for more information.