A Momentous Day: His First Phone
So this happened….we are giving our 11-year-old a phone.
Not a fancy, brand-new iPhone, mind you.
It’s a pretty old phone, actually. A Blackberry. But it’s still a phone. His first phone.
A starter phone, you might say. Less likely to be stolen. Limited viewing capabilities when it comes to internet usage. No games.
In doing so, and before we even told him, we had him read and sign the following contract. This was something I wrote a few years aback, adapted from another contract written by Janell Hofmann.
Telephone and Internet Use Contract
- We will always know your passwords. This technology is on loan to you; the hardware it’s on belongs to us, not you.
- Everything is permanent. Everything. You can never truly “delete” anything you text, post, or email. Don’t put anything out there that might embarrass you when you are 40.
- Talk to your friends, don’t just text. Communicating in person is a life skill you need to learn.
- Do not use the internet or social media as a means of hurting other people. It is not a shield or a weapon. It is still you saying that to them—if you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t text, post, or email it.
- Do not text, email, post or say anything that you don’t want to read about when you are a senator someday. Remember, everything is permanent. Everything.
- Avoid looking at or browsing websites or materials that degrade other human beings. (This one will be discussed in further detail, in person, as appropriate to his age. We want to caution him without giving him an unnecessary curiosity.)
- Technology doesn’t own you. You don’t have to bring it with you everywhere. Have the freedom to leave it home every once in a while.
- You have access to the music of the entire world. Broaden your horizons. Listen to something new. Be different. Mozart is awesome. So are Sufjan Stevens and Matisyahu.
- Be present. Don’t live your life with your head down, or through the computer screen. Look out the windows, talk to the person next to you, be a part of our lives.
- Don’t spend all your spare time on MineCraft. Play games that make you think every once in a while.
- With the internet you have access to extraordinary amounts of knowledge. You also have access to extraordinary amounts of junk. Don’t believe everything you read online. If you’re not sure, ask us. We’ll show you how to find out what’s true and what’s not.
- Everything is permanent. Everything. Don’t ever email, text, or post something that will humiliate someone else, either today or when they are 40.
- iPads and Smart Phones are not allowed in your room. You are welcome to use them in any of the public areas of our home. You may listen to your iPod or read your Kindle in your room.
- Your phone will be checked in with mom or dad at 7pm each evening and left to charge overnight in the kitchen. No exceptions.
- Failure to comply with any of the above will result in loss of technology privileges for a period of time. We love you, we expect that you are going to make some mistakes. We’ll work through them, together.
You can download a copy of this same contract here, if you like.
His eyes about bugged out of his head as he realized what was going on.
His first reaction was fear – what if I lose it?
You will, we said. That’s why this is a starter phone.
What if I mess up and lose my privileges? he said.
You will, we said. It will be okay. We expect you to make mistakes. It’s a process, responsibility. We’re here to help you get there.
I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m sort of bugged out myself.
What are your family rules for internet and smart-phone usage? In talking with others, I’ve already discovered a few things I left out! Stay tuned for an addendum…coming soon.
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