YOUR CHILD AND A PHONE: Giving in but not Giving Up

One of the issues I have watched my own daughter and her husband fight is the almost daily grind of a request for a cell-phone by their teenage sons. Others in the church who have not yet given one to their child have told me of the whining that goes with it. Some other parents who have given a phone to their child share stories of the problemskidiphone that seem to accompany the use of the device.

Below is a model contract that I have modified from Janell Burley Hofmann that she gave her 13 year old son when he was presented an Iphone at Christmas. If you would like to see the original contract, you can go to

Feel free to modify it for your family situation but there is a lot of wisdom in this model for you.

 Dear _______

 You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.  Aren’t you lucky!  You are a good & responsible __ year old (boy or girl) and you deserve this gift.  But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations.  Please read through the following contract.  We hope that you understand it is our job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young (man or woman) that can function in the world and coexist with technology and not be ruled by it.  Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

 We love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

 1. It is OUR phone.  We bought it.  We paid for it.  We are loaning it to you.  Aren’t we the greatest?

 2.  We 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 7:30 p.m. every school night & every weekend night at 9:00 p.m.  It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 a.m.  If you would not make a call to someone’s landline, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text that person. 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 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 your father or mother. 

 11.  Turn it off, silence it,  or 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 and not always on your phone.  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.  We will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.   We all are always learning.  We are on your team.  We are in this together.

 It is our 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.  We love you.  We hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone. 


About drivingthegospel

I am a follower of Jesus Christ; a husband to Deb; a father to Brit and her husband Bill and to Travis and his wife Megan, a grandfather to Simon, Thadd, Nathanael, Eli, Isaac, Ezra, Asa, and Xavier. I am currently serving as the Coordinator of Spiritual Development at Lincoln Christian School in Lincoln, Nebraska as well as the head wrestling coach and an assistant football coach.

Posted on January 11, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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