Greg Hoffman, like many 13-year-old Americans, wanted an iPhone for Christmas. And, as surprised as he was to unwrap it Christmas morning, he definitely did not expect the 18-point set of terms and conditions that came with it — written by his Mom.
Massachusetts mom Janelle Hoffman is keenly aware of how teenagers use and abuse technology, and was not about to let a new device undo all the work she’s put into raising her son to be a “well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it,” Hoffman wrote and the start of her terms and conditions list.
The 18 rules were meant to be light-hearted, but also help instruct Greg on how to use a smart phone while avoiding its pitfalls. The terms outline the instructions Greg must abide by if he wishes to keep the phone, such as to never ignore a call from “Mom” or “Dad,” the phone must be shut off at certain times every night, to never search for porn, and to never send or receive pictures of his or others’ “private parts.”
Other rules describe how to use it responsibly, such as rule 7, which reads: “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.”
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Other light-hearted rules encourage Greg to not be dependent on his phone, such as rule 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.”
Janelle, a writer and child advocate, told Good Morning America that she and her husband Adam want to raise their five children to be responsible human beings, and by teaching him to “be a responsible user of technology without abusing it, without becoming addicted.”
Good Morning America also quoted teenage behavior expert Josh Shipp, who said that a set of rules is essential for parents to give to their teenagers with their smart phones.
“You wouldn't give your kid a car without making sure they had insurance,” he said. “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.”