Mom Gives Teen Smart Phone Under 18 Conditions
Janell Burley Hoffman, a blogger, gave her 13-year-old son, Gregory an iPhone for Christmas but it was not without its conditions. In fact, it came with an 18-point contract that she mandated he first sign.
Janell, a mother of five, felt her son was old enough to handle the responsibility of an iPhone but wanted to make sure that he first understood that with great social media power and technological influence comes great responsibility and she should know, since she does live in the social media world as a blogger, like many of us.
I 100% agree with her having her son sign a contract. In fact, I know some adults who need to peruse this contract.It is not a punishment but it is teaching responsibility. So many parents hand their children a smart phone with a camera, video and access to the internet and never even discuss it beyond, watch your minutes and let’s keep the text messaging to a minimum, especially when driving. These are great starter points but it is sort of like handing your child the keys to the car without first giving them lessons on how to drive. It is dangerous and could get someone into serious trouble.
Morality gets blurred these days. Teens today have a much higher curve for what is right and wrong. Things that we would have never done when we were teens is now acceptable; sexting, nude photos, and so much more than you ever want ot imagine your child doing at a young age.
Janell presented her son with an 18-point contract to read and sign that went along with his phone. Some very poignant points were made and I think that all parents should issue these contracts with their personal boundaries and guidelines in mind when giving their teen a smart phone.
Here are a few of her rules that I found particularly poignant:
“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.
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.
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.
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. “
Honestly, every point she made in the contract was fantastic. She gave him a gift. She is parenting him in a way that allows him to receive her trust enough to give him such a responsibility but at the same time she took the opportunity to remind him of some key points that many of us have forgotten to use in our day to day interaction with the human race. Life is about living and enjoying moments and the people of those moments, not living fast and trying to get to the next part. That becomes tedious, tiresome and unfulfilling.
I think many of us parents can take a lesson from Janell and sit down and have a conversation. Maybe we start with something small like proper iPhone etiquette, or how to have safe sex or even something as small as how what we say and do in our everyday has a ripple effect on those around us and maybe someday we end up in a place where our children can come to us with any question or conversation.
Would you ever consider having your child sign a contract before giving them a smartphone?
Photo via Flickr: William Hook