Mum’s iPhone Contract for Son


Most of us have had to deal with phone contracts but most contracts come from our telecommunications company, not our mothers.

Janell Burley Hoffman has made news around the world by issuing her 13 year old son with an 18 point contract along with his Christmas gift of a new iPhone.

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.

The contract is full of rules to govern the use of the phone, including a reminder that it’s mum who pays the bills and she will control the phone.

Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

Most of the rules are just good common sense and would be useful for everyone who owns a smart phone. In fact, many of the rules apply to a range of areas in life and remind us that people are more important than ‘things’.

Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.

Rapid advances in technology often mean that good guidelines for using new technology lag behind their availability. However, this mum has reminded us that manners and simple common sense go a long way in whatever new situation we find ourselves.

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.

Parents around the world are hailing the contract as a return to common sense. It’s a reminder that when we hand over a new responsibility we, as parents, still get to decide how far that responsibility stretches. Just because a smart phone is full of features, it doesn’t mean that every feature should become immediately available to a young person. The contract is a great mix of compulsory rules and an encouragement to develop self-discipline.

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.

A lot of parents have been asking if they can use the contract for their own children. Janell Burley Hoffman has responded via her Twitter account, “To all that have messaged about using “the contract” in your home for your family, go for it!”

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.

What do you think of the contract? Would you hand someone a contract like that?

Do you think that there are guidelines in the contract that we could all do well to follow? What other rules do you think should govern the use of smart phones for everyone, not just children?

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • Sensational!

    Looks like good parenting to me. Kids need guidance in every area of their life & who best to guide them other than mum & dad who love them unreservedly.

    I’m RT, Sharing & +ing this post.

  • You will find that some of these points are quite ridiculous, if you read the whole contract….

    Telling your teenage son that he’s not allowed to look at porn? This is the 21st century…. Come on..

    Telling him to hand the phone to one of his parents at 7:30 pm every normal weekday? would’ve been fine. If he was 8. Besides ” If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.” . . . . . .

    I think it’s nice of the mom to try and make good rules for her son, but this woman only manages to make a fool of herself when showing the whole world what she believes all those rules fit a 13 year old.

    • Having parented two children past thirteen years of age I can say that those rules are more than suitable for a thirteen year old. They may not suit every family but I’m sure that millions of parents across the world will support Janell and her contract.

      I also find it incredibly sad that anyone should think that porn is an expected and appropriate part of a thirteen year old’s life. It’s an industry that exploits, objectifies and dehumanises women and has caused countless marriage breakdowns. That’s not the kind of thing I’d want anyone, much less a thirteen year old, to be immersed in.

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