Mom Buys Her Son New iPhone, Channels Inner Moses and Presents Him with 18 iPhone Commandments
All these Internet-enabled phones and other gadgets that seem to hit the market on a daily basis really are a double-edged sword. While we’re connected to more people and places than we ever could have imagined and have more entertainment options than we probably need, this technology can sometimes cause us to become withdrawn or rely on it for otherwise simple tasks that we can easily do ourselves. As a result of this dilemma, parents can be understandably hesitant to purchase smartphones and the like for their children. Not wanting her child to become an unsocial techie, a woman named Janell Burley Hofmann bought her 13-year-old son Gregory an iPhone as a Christmas present. “Gee, thanks, Mom,” you can hear little Gregory delightfully say, but that was before Mrs. Hofmann went biblical and blindsided her son with a litany of 18 commandment-like responsibilities to be mindful of now that he has a new phone, possibly resulting in a not so jolly Christmas morning for either of them.
Mrs. Hofmann definitely gets parenting points for meeting the material wishes of her son and gifting him with an iPhone to call his own. But after reading her accompanying 18-point contract, we’re not sure it’s actually such a great gift:
Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good & responsible 13 year old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.
I love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.
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.
It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone. Merry Christmas!
Popular opinion would be hasty to accuse Mrs. Hofmann’s 18-point contract as pedantic and smothering, ultimately defeating the purpose of granting her son an iPhone. But in this day and age where our lives — inadvertently or not — revolve around mobile devices and constant internet access, this contract is a pretty good example of savvy parenting and common sense, if not a breath of fresh air.
It’s a sad development that most parents today are willing to cave in to their child’s demands or turn a blind eye to his or her online social activity solely for the sake of not looking an authoritarian rule-maker. But as Mrs. Hofmann fairly expressed in Gregory’s contract, the freedom a device with internet capabilities allows is indescribable — especially during those formative teenage years when logic and reason are getting worked over like poor sparring partners by things that sound really smart and fun at the time. This lack of juvenile forethought, in conjunction with becoming absorbed by superficial conversation via text messaging, can have damaging social effects and impact future interactions with others.
Say what you will, but we should be grateful that there are clear, rational heads like Mrs. Hofmann in a world where distributors and advertisers of mobile devices have the misinformed habit that their products equate to a happy and healthy social life.
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