I recently read the story of the mom who gave her son an iphone for Christmas along with a contract outlining her expectations of him with the phone. I found it to be quite brilliant, humorous and from a mother who genuinely cares about her son and how he grows up in this crazy world of technology.
A few days ago I received the tweet below from HappyHealthyHip:
As you can tell buy the title someone had very different views of this iphone giving mom and her contract. I read her responses, which I have included below along with the original contract, and was a bit astonished. My 17 year old was out but Noah (15) was around so I called him up to the living room and read a few of the contract items with the responses from The Innovative Educator. I said, “I am going to write about this, but before I do, I would very much like your input.”
“Why don’t you let me write a response,” he said.
As anyone with a teenager knows, if your kid asks to write ANYTHING, because they actually WANT TO, you let them. I’m glad I did. I am sharing his response below in red. I am very proud of his answers. I am one lucky mom.
Below is the letter originally written by Janell Burley Hofman (you should check out her site, it’s quite fantastic) and the responses from The Innovative Educator along with my son’s responses in red.
Ok for starters, do you have teens? Because if not then you shouldn’t even be talking about this. I am 16 years old and I have had a phone for 3 years now. It has not changed me as a person and quite frankly my mother and I had agreements similar to this. The fact that you have the audacity to write these responses for a 13 year old young man just goes to show how truly out of touch you are.
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.
I appreciate gifts, but this is not a gift. A gift does not come with strings attached so I don’t choose to accept this. Below are my responses to your strings.
- Thanks mom, but I got my own phone a few weeks back. I’m not sure if you’re the greatest, but I don’t need your strings-attached gifts anymore than you would appreciate dad giving you a gift with such strings.
- Noah: Where do you suppose this 13 year old got money to buy a 400+ dollar phone, what about the calling plan, texting plan and data plan monthly?
2. I will always know the password.
- Yes you will because I am not taking your phone. I’m saddened by your blatant distrust of me.
- Noah: At age 13 i didn’t get an iphone, but I would have been thrilled if I did and would have been just fine with this condition.
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.
- Please mom. These are not 21st century manners. I keep my phone on silent or vibrate and am present in my conversations and life. I can call someone back and focus on what I am doing rather than being slave to a piece of technology.
- Noah: Obviously calls will be “missed” because this mom is aware that phones will be on silent on occasion. She clearly stated not to IGNORE calls. If you are unaware, ignore means: to refrain from noticing, or in other words look at the call but not answer on purpose.
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.
- That’s okay mom. You can keep my phone. Texting is not the same as using a landline and your outdated instincts are not applicable. You may want to do some research about teens and optimal sleep patterns. I don’t disconnect from the world at 7:30 p.m.
- Noah: Although I am a bit skeptical of this rule I still think that she is on the right track. As far as being disconnected from the world, the mom said that a landline is an option. Learning to speak to adults is a very crucial part of childhood. This mom didn’t say that he would have to go to bed at 7:30 so this has nothing to do with sleep patterns.
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.
- I have developed the ability to converse with people in a variety of ways. Texting, IMing, voice and more. Being able to text effectively has no impact on my ability to speak effectively. I am developing skills to communicate in many different ways. Additionally, why do you think I must be kept a prisoner of your past? I am quite capable at using my iPhone as a learning tool. Maybe I can teach you some time.
- Noah: Taking a phone to school isn’t necessary. Children who text all the time without talking to others in person can be some of the most awkward people you meet. I would know. I see them every day.
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.
- Yep. Got that. Those are the things I did to buy my own phone and bonus! It has a warranty.
- Noah: Once again what 13 year old has the money to buy a phone? Or pay the monthly insurance costs for the phone if any of those things happen? Phones don’t have a lifetime warranty either.
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.
- Yes. I know this. Do you doubt my morals? I am a good person. A phone won’t change that.
- Noah: This is obviously not a question of the child’s morals. It is just reitterating that the mother wants these morals to stick. Repetition is the “mother” of learning.
8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
- I don’t.
- Noah: Your response to this rule is truly elementary. You saw that it was a fair rule for any child getting a phone so you just wrote the easiest thing you could. If you were trying to give “advice” on parenting, you would have put much more effort into this.
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.
- I don’t need to censor myself. Why do you think so little of me? Am I sensing projection?
- Noah: You clearly have no idea how teens talk amongst themselves. Censorship is something that can make or break a first impression so I do think it is needed.
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.
- So glad you suggest this mom. I can see you have carefully considered the best way to address this with me. When can we talk about porn?
- Noah: This is a fair rule as well. Although porn is an awkward topic it should be discussed between parent and child at some point.
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.
- Wait mom! You are contradicting yourself. In number 3 you told me 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. Sounds like you’re going a little schizo but don’t worry. I know proper etiquette. Let me know if you’d like some help.
- Noah: You are now twisting her words. She once again said don’t ignore a call. In order to ignore a call you have to know its ringing.
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.
- Ugh mom. Really? Is this your idea of sex ed? I’m sorry, but you’re so lame. And, let’s lay off the scare tactics. According to my history class even our president got over a little Lewinsky bam chicka bam bam.
- Noah: Ok well no teen in their right mind would say “bam chicka bam bam.” It’s an important rule. You obviously haven’t done your homework. Kids are sexting and it can be really bad for them and their future.
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.
- Why do you care how many pictures and videos I take? What makes you think they’ll be stored forever. Brain research does not support this. You’re starting to sound a bit paranoid and insane. Mom you’re scaring me.
- Noah: If memories are important they will stick there are no need for pictures and the fill up data plans which can take up important space.
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.
- I look at the adults in my world and they don’t do that. It’s pretty normal to keep your phone on you. I’m getting worried about your advice mom.
- Leaving a phone at home is a great idea. It allows you to get out and just have normal conversations with those around you.
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.
- OMG mom! Can you spell C-O-N-T-R-O-L-L-I-N-G. I’ll listen to the music I choose, you listen to your Frankie Valli, thank you very much.
- Noah: Listening to new music can be very healthy. And no 13 year old of this era knows who Frankie Valli is.
16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
- I don’t think you know much about what I play. Talk to me about it and find out what I’m learning. There are more than the type of games you mention that are good for my brain.
- Noah: The mom did not say that was the only games he could play and there are many games that teens play that are word based games so you have no clue what kids play clearly.
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.
- Well, this sounds like mighty fine advice but you force me to be locked in a classroom all day and saddled with homework at night. As far as Googling, why knock it? Did you know a 15-year-old used Google to advance cancer testing?
- Noah: Being locked in a classroom is part of life and at night you probably don’t want to look out a window for it will be dark but from the end of school till night there is a solid chunk of day left to enjoy.
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 may mess up, but I bought my own phone. You are controlling and I’m not sure you have proved yourself the best person for me to speak to. If that happens I will figure it out and if it is you I pick, I’ll let you know.
- Noah: And we’re back to your idea that this kid can afford the upfront and monthly costs of a phone, its not happening. nuff said. A 13 year old needs a parent to talk to, it is where the beginning of morals are started and they shape who we teens will grow up to be.
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!
- I got my own phone that I will use on my terms. I give this phone back to you as a gift that I hope you will enjoy using on the terms that make sense for you. Mom I’m disappointed that you are trying to control me rather than have conversations with me. I bet we could learn a lot from each other if we actually talked.
So…what do you think? Would love your thoughts. Are Janell and I overbearing moms?