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Posted

Thirteen-year-old Greg Hoffman had been begging his parents for an iPhone all year. So on Christmas morning he was thrilled to find the object of his desire under the tree, but there was a catch.

The phone came with an 18-point set of terms and conditions that he had to agree to before the phone could be his. And the agreement did not come from Apple or the phone provider, it was from his mother.

"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," the agreement begins. "But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations."

The first rule on his mother's list: "It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?"

"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," Janell Hoffman wrote. "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," she added.

"Oh my God. My first reaction was, why? Why did she really have to do this?" Hoffman told "Good Morning America" today.

"What I wanted to do and show him [is] how you could be a responsible user of technology without abusing it, without becoming addicted," Janell Hoffman said.

Hoffman herself is a blogger and mother of five in Cape Cod, Mass. She wanted her son to avoid many of the pitfalls that both smart phone using teens and adults fall prey to.

"Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being," read rule number seven. "Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire."

Other rules forbid porn and the sending or receiving of "pictures of your private parts or anyone else's private parts." The rules also outline the hours and places the phone may be used.

"It it rings, answer it," said rule number three. "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."

Hoffman said that the lessons she outlined were for her son's iPhone usage, for his life and for anyone too attached to their mobile device.

"Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you," she encouraged. "Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without Googling."

Teen behavior expert Josh Shipp says a set of rules are a must for teen iPhone use.

"You wouldn't' give your kid a car without making sure they had insurance," said Shipp, who is the host of Lifetime's "Teen Trouble." "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."

Here's Janell Hoffman's full list of rules for her son, originally posted on her blog:

Dear Gregory,

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.

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.

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!

xoxoxo

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Posted

those are amazing rules, this mother is amazing.

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Posted

While I agree there should be ground rules for a 13 year old with a cell phone, this isn't going to end well in the next 5 years for this family. This lady obviously has some control complex and perception issues of herself. As this kid matures he is going to start to want to stretch his wings like a normal kid, not even beyond what a normal kid does, just what a normal kid does without going past the line and his mom is going to clamp down on him and he is going to rebel. This will lead to some very bad choices and situations for this kid.

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Posted

I'd tell her to shove it, theres no need to be so controlling.

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Posted

She could have just bought the kid a basic dumbphone.

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Posted

Rule 17 - Talk to a stranger.

Is she seriously telling her son to talk to strangers? I was told the opposite as a child.

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Posted

I see the good intent and certainly that mother is a good example for parents to some extent, but some rules are seriously overblown.

I'd simply hand it back and favor my freedom instead of getting the device as extended arm of the mother with such pitiful rules.

Glassed Silver:mac

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Posted

I'd tell her to shove it, theres no need to be so controlling.

Then you'd be without a phone. period.

What is wrong with learning/obeying proper etiquette, manners and common sense?

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Posted

I would honestly hand the phone back to her and say, 'no thanks'. :laugh:

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Posted

Then you'd be without a phone. period.

What is wrong with learning/obeying proper etiquette, manners and common sense?

That's the thing.. common sense, it shouldn't have to be written out in a set of rules for you.

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Posted

It all seems reasonable, though why the hell people buy smartphones for kids I'll never understand.

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Posted

Then you'd be without a phone. period.

What is wrong with learning/obeying proper etiquette, manners and common sense?

I can do that with my own set of morals, I don't need some jumped up parent controlling every little aspect of my life.

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Posted

Yea I'd give her it back too, with the addition of politely telling her to shove it up her ass

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Posted

Common sense has to be learnt, like everything else, it doesn't just drop into you.

most of the rules seems sensible enough, not sure about some of them like no phone at school, though it does make sense, you don't really need a phone at school anyway.

For all the people who claim they would hand it back, seriously what's wrong with some rules. kids need rules, kids without rules without fail always go bad in some way.

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Posted

I can do that with my own set of morals, I don't need some jumped up parent controlling every little aspect of my life.

At a certain point I think it's better to primarily learn from friends and thinking about life yourself over learning from parents.

I listened to my parents way too long. I don't want to blame them for the mistakes I've done, it was my fault for not realizing when the point had come to become a little more independent.

[...]

For all the people who claim they would hand it back, seriously what's wrong with some rules. kids need rules, kids without rules without fail always go bad in some way.

I agree, kids do need rules, but a lot of her rules are either totally overblown or good in theory but taken too far.

She's a control freak, at least she's sane enough to not blindly think her son will "maybe never break them".

She's set ready for her ridiculous rules to be broken. (Any rules will be broken though, I don't blame breaking the rules on the severity of the rules here)

Glassed Silver:mac

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Posted

Yea I'd give her it back too, with the addition of politely telling her to shove it up her ass

Attitudes like that is why kids need rules. Especially the ones about proper manners.

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Posted

Attitudes like that is why kids need rules. Especially the ones about proper manners.

If anything these rules are going to make the kid resent his parents for controlling his life. I didn't have any rules as a kid apart from the obvious common sense ones and I turned out ok?

It's ok to have some rules but not controlling every little thing and decision in a persons life.

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Posted

These rules are not even close to controlling every little thing and decision, these rules are just teaching him common sense and manner and respect.

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If anything these rules are going to make the kid resent his parents for controlling his life. I didn't have any rules as a kid apart from the obvious common sense ones and I turned out ok?

It's ok to have some rules but not controlling every little thing and decision in a persons life.

She is not controlling him at all really. Just giving him some basic rules to abide by. Have you seen how ignorant a lot of phone users are nowadays?

They're either texting or have their head in facebook. Even when you're trying to have a conversation with them.

Anyway i don't think kids need phones, other than for emergencies. Majority of us got on fine without a mobile phone.

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Posted

Attitudes like that is why kids need rules. Especially the ones about proper manners.

I'm sure he'd not phrase it in an insulting way, which would be quite inappropriate.

I agree though that the parents should get a clear message for such an awful attempt and control complex.

Otherwise you'll end up breaking free too late and your parents won't even realize and keep treating you like always before, because "acting up" is understood with a teenager, once you hit the 20's it's all just blamed on you.

Trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

Glassed Silver:mac

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Posted

These rules are not even close to controlling every little thing and decision, these rules are just teaching him common sense and manner and respect.

Of course they are, they are telling him how, when and why to use his mobile, he has to give it them back every night, can't take it it school, can't do this, can't do that.

I'd hate to live with his parents if they are like this over a freaking phone.

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Posted

15 Turn off the email signature, Nobody cares what device you used to send an email and it sounds obnoxious to advertise one.

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Attitudes like that is why kids need rules. Especially the ones about proper manners.

Not at all, I have perfect manners to people who deserve them, I was brought up with a shed load of rules too but getting a list of ridiculous demands like that, I'd tell her to do one.

She is an absolute control freak, nothing to do with keeping her kid safe at all, who is she to tell him never to blank calls ? Fair enough tell him to answer his parents, but not everyone.

I'd rather not have a phone than have one with such a huge list of ways to get in trouble with your parents over.

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And why does he need to use the phone at night, he's a kid, he's supposed to sleep. not play on the phone all night. Not controlling

When he's at school, he's supposed to be studying or playing with other kids, not play on his phone, if they need to reach him, they can call the school, also not controlling, just teaching common sense and manners.

Not at all, I have perfect manners to people who deserve them, I was brought up with a shed load of rules too but getting a list of ridiculous demands like that, I'd tell her to do one.

She is an absolute control freak, nothing to do with keeping her kid safe at all, who is she to tell him never to blank calls ? Fair enough tell him to answer his parents, but not everyone.

I'd rather not have a phone than have one with such a huge list of ways to get in trouble with your parents over.

Actually she only told him to never "ignore" the phone ringing, and to always answer his parents. not to always answer all calls.

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And why does he need to use the phone at night, he's a kid, he's supposed to sleep. not play on the phone all night. Not controlling

When he's at school, he's supposed to be studying or playing with other kids, not play on his phone, if they need to reach him, they can call the school, also not controlling, just teaching common sense and manners.

I never said he did, but at some point you have to trust your kid to make the right decisions and ultimately make a few mistakes to learn from, not treat him like a prisoner. First time he steps out of line with the phone then you take it off him, you don't give him a set of demands just waiting for him to screw up. These are the worst kind of parents, I'm not saying be completely hands off but they have gone to the other EXTREME.

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