That’s Janell Burley Hofmann and her loving family. Don’t worry, I’m not stalking them (although they live at one of my favorite places). That’s a picture from Hofmann’s blog about being Hoffmann, which sounds a lot like being a mother/wife/person with a blog.
One of Hofmann’s blog posts has caught the attention of the Interwebs. In a post to her 13 year old son, she congratulates him on the new iPhone that Santa brought him as a gift. Then Hofmann proceeds to slap on eighteen restrictions that are necessary for the iPhone to remain in the son’s possession. Here are the stipulations:
1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
2. I will always know the password.
3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.
4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night & every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
10. No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.
11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.
13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.
15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.
I’m assuming that this contract is gaining attention because the lessons within the contract are lessons that the kid should be learning in life; and the fact that it has gained so much notoriety might be a bit of a sad commentary on our society. Still, it’s nice to see a parent not shuck the responsibility of talking about technology with their child. These conversations seem to get ignored until Jane gets a text message with the nude attachment that she meant for only Johnny to see.
I’m less interested in the contract and much more interested in the follow-through. What’s going to happen when Greg becomes permanently connected to said iPhone? And those rules are fine but the teenager is going to push the boundaries. Will Janell be able to resist the “I need it for emergencies” excuse? And will the contract be the same for Greg’s sisters? Is there a texting limit? Will Mom come to class to pick up the phone when Greg is texting his best friends about going to the football game? And will the family stay iPhone exclusive or is there a Nexus in someone’s future?