A 13-year-old Massachusetts teenager was offered an iPhone as a Christmas present.
But the handset did not come alone: a user contract accompanied it.
Eighteen rules are listed in the contract by his mother, Janell Burley Hofmann, about the context in which this device should be used.
In eighteen points, Janell describes the rules that Gregory must submit to, under penalty of confiscating his iPhone, hoping to protect her son against the pitfalls of new technologies.
Here is the contract Gregory had to agree with in order to become the possessor of an iPhone:
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.”
For the remaining 9 points in the contract click HERE.
Interviewed during Good Morning America, to which Janell Hofmann and Gregory were invited, Josh Shipp, an expert on adolescent behavior, spoke about the usefulness of such a contract:
“You wouldn’t give your kid a car without making sure that they have insurance. And so giving them a cell phone or a computer without teaching them how to use it responsibly is irresponsible on the part of the parent.”
Janell chose to publish the contract online to share her approach with other parents.