Parents today have to watch out for troubles with technology. With kids using cell phones for "sexting," it's no wonder moms and dads are leery about their kids' use of social media sites and other high-tech devices.
Some moms and dads may restrict their kids' access to cell phones to avoid such conundrums, but Massachusetts mom Janell Burley Hofmann decided to do things differently – and, after blogging her approach, became one of the first viral parenting stories of 2013.
Rather than avoiding the technology that is inevitably a part of today's generation's lives, Hofmann gifted her 13-year-old son Gregory an iPhone for Christmas – but it came with a contract attached.
"You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations," Hofmann wrote in the contract, which she posted on her website and the Huffington Post.
"Please read through the following contract," she continued. "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."
Mom starts the 18-point contract with rule No. 1: "It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren't I the greatest?" and rule No. 2 quickly establishes: "I will always know the password."
And although Hofmann's contract includes rules such as "hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 p.m. every school night and every weekend night at 9 p.m." and "It does not go to school with you," Hofmann teaches her son some other important lessons in cell phone usage – some that even adults could benefit from adopting.
"Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public," No. 11 reads. "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."
She also tells Gregory that if he accepts the iPhone, he needs to "learn to live without it," and "see the world happening around" him. And if Gregory is playing games, mom suggests he play puzzle games sometimes, too.
The contract is strict on no sexting and "no porn" – and mom warns there should be no sending "anything through this device you would not say in person."
Hofmann explains to her son at the end of the contract that, "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," she writes. "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."