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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 1 November, 2014

An iPhone contract we could all learn from

18 rules from a mother to her teenage son.

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.

THAT IS JUST one of 18 rules an American mother gave to her teenage son as part of his iPhone contract.

A common dilemma for parents today is when to allow their children to own smartphones. In Ireland, cyber-bullying has become a significant problem and constant access to text messaging and internet services has been cited by some as part of the issue.

Blogger Janell Burley Hofmann has come up with a kind-of etiquette list for her 13-year-old son, which has garnered attention on both sides of the Atlantic for its sensible approach to modern technology.

As she gave her son Gregory his Christmas gift – a sparkling new iPhone – she warned him it came with “rules and regulations”. “Please read through the following contract,” she wrote. “I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well round, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it.”

Her rules:

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 and every weekend night at 9pm. 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 no 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.

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Greg and Janell Hofmann Image: ABCNews.com

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.

Read more from Janell Burley Hofmann here>

15 tips and tricks for your new iPhone

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