My son just finished middle school last week. For his graduation and good grades, I’m getting him a smartphone. He’s had a cell phone (old school, flip phone) for a few years but hardly ever uses it. He’s also got an iPod Touch which he’s taken care of for several years. With him going in to high school, I figured it was time. I didn’t just hand him over a new phone. I wrapped up an empty box and said it was “coming soon” along with a smartphone contract that he must sign before I get him the phone. None of this was a surprise to him. He already knows these rules apply and we’ve been using these rules for years now. I just wanted it in writing and a reminder of what to expect.
For the contract, I searched online for other cell phone contracts for kids. I found a few I liked, combined them in to my own and added what I needed to. Below was the final product.
Congratulations on finishing middle school! You will be the proud recipient of a new iPhone 5s (coming soon). I am so very proud of you not only for all the work this year but in the past as well. You have shown such care with your iPod Touch(es) and I expect the same care for your new iPhone as well. Please read through the following contract. 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. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone.
- It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you.
- YOU are responsible for any overage amount for going over the data plan.
- Your parents will always know the password.
- We can go through the contents of your phone at any time, with or without your knowledge. You agree to surrender your phone immediately, to any of us, if asked.
- You will not delete your texting history without permission, and you will fully cooperate in showing your parents the contents of your phone, including contacts, pictures, videos, text messages, etc.
- You will always respond to any of our texts/calls, as soon as possible, in the given situation. You will not ignore our calls and texts.
- If the phone 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.
- 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.
- Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
- Do not text, email, or say anything that you wouldn’t say in person with your parents listening. Censor yourself.
- Do not use your phone to take pictures or video of nudity, violence or other unlawful activity. If you ever receive inappropriate photos from a stranger OR someone that you do know, you will immediately tell one of your parents. And, you will NOT respond to any such message.
- You will not use your phone for malicious purposes, i.e. bullying, spreading rumors/gossip, etc, nor will you send text messages that are vulgar, obscene, or sexual in nature. You must understand that such messages are both highly inappropriate and potentially illegal.
- No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with any of us. If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably, one of your parents.
- Turn it off, silence it, and 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.
- 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.
- Do not download apps that are not age appropriate. You must ask permission before signing up for any social media accounts (like Instagram or Facebook).
- 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).
- Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Wonder without googling.
- You will obey all rules your school has regarding cell phones usage on school grounds.
- You understand that your phone may be taken away at ANY time for ANY reason that your parents see fit especially if you are not maintaining good grades, get in to trouble, fail to complete school assignments/homework or if you are disrespectful or disobedient.
- You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.
It is my 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. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.