If your mum and dad bought you an iPhone for Christmas, or if you’re a mum or dad who gifted an iPhone to your kid, you should make your kid follow the rules of Janell Hofmann. Hofmann bought an iPhone for her 13-year-old son Greg and gave him 18 rules to follow.
If you think Hofmann was being an overbearing mum, think again. There’s good advice in her 18 rules! Sure, she requires to know the password of the iPhone and demands to receive the phone at night, but she also encourages her kid to not get so caught up with her iPhone and just live life. Rule #5 wants Greg to “have a conversation with the people you text in person” because it’s a life skill. Rule #13 says not to take a “zillion pictures and videos” because you should live your experiences instead of being so focused on documenting everything.
But the two best rules are probably the last two. Rule #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. And rule number 18 admits that Greg is probably going to screw up eventually, but that they’ll figure it out together because they’re a team. Yeah, you can say aww.
In a world where technology is taking over people’s people skills and people’s peopleness, we should all try and follow these 18 rules to realise that technology isn’t everything. Or at the very least, Greg Hofmann should definitely follow the rules. Check out Janell Hofmann’s full 18-point list of rules below and her full letter to her son at her website.
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 & every weekend night at 9:00pm. 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 land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not 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.
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.