Cell Phone Contract

  • Time to read 3 minutes
Mom and son reading a contract together

With age comes responsibility, and what better way to teach students about responsibility than giving them a clearly laid out list of rules with their new Christmas gift. That is what Janell Hoffman did for her son when she handed him his new cell phone. What is interesting however, is not that a mother would write out a list of dos and don’ts attached to the use of a phone, but that the media should be abuzz with it for days, and thousands of parents download it. That just shows how parents need all the help they can get keeping up to date with the world of hi-tech communication manners and child safety. In todays world of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and cell phones, it’s a complicated world out there. Knowing who your children’s friends are is no longer enough to keep them safe. You need to know who they are friending, what they are watching and what they are posting. Their safety and their futures could be at stake. Kids think they know how to navigate this complicated, communicative world, but they don’t. Mistakes are made every day. Ask the female High School subject of the NPR piece Slut Shaming about her boyfriend posting intimate pictures of her online and getting over 2000 friend requests because of it. Ask her if having some rules might have changed her decision making – at least on boyfriends. Kids have been putting themselves in risky situations for years, it is part of teenage-hood to do crazy things, but now when it happens it happens in public. Thankfully, moms like Janell Hoffman are not just great moms but bloggers too. Here is her great contract with her son Greg. You might just find it useful.

  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 landline, 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.