Teen’s iPhone Comes with Contract From Mom

iphone-face-down-blackIn today’s world most teens have cell phones. Not just cell phones, but most teens today are getting smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone. It is not uncommon anymore to see students in middle school, and lower, with their own smart phone. I’m sure some parents reading this have bought their teen a smart phone recently, maybe as a Christmas present. My fear is many parents don’t understand the freedom they are giving their teens when they hand them their very own smart phone. Does this mean I’m an advocate of teens not having smart phones? Not necessarily, but I do believe parents need to understand what they are allowing in their teens hand when they give them their own smart phone. So how should parents handle this? Should they buy their teen an old school phone that only sends text messages? Should they buy their teen a smart phone and hope they use it wisely? I’ll let each parent decide on their own, but I want to share with you what one parent did when she gave her son his very own iPhone.

Gregory Hofmann received an iPhone from his mother Janelle Burley Hofmann as a Christmas present, but along with the iPhone came an 18 point contract detailing how he should use the iPhone. Take a look at the contract she wrote him below:

Dear Gregory

Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. 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 ownership.

I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

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 7:30 p.m. every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 p.m. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 a.m. 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 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.


At first I didn’t know what to think about this “contract.” But the more I think about it the more I would have to say I support this mother’s actions. She did her research and knows the temptations that come with having a smart phone as a teen. She is giving her son freedom to enjoy things like an iPhone, but with boundaries to help him use it in an appropriate way.

My goal in writing this post and sharing this story is to start a much needed discussion on how parents can balance freedom and protection when it comes to giving their child an smart phone. Too many parents just give their teen a smart phone with complete freedom and act surprised when their teen is caught looking at porn, spending countless hours texting, and sending inappropriate text images (apps like Snapchat are making things like this much easier). Their has to be a balance and parents need to consider what that balance looks like for them when they give their teen a smart phone.

[Question] What’s your thoughts on this mother’s contract that came with her sons iPhone?

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

Join the Conversation


    1. I agree with you that it’s sad something like this has to happen, but parenting in a fallen world is not easy. I don’t have kids of my own yet and pray I will find balance between giving my kids proper freedom, but boundaries to protect them and help them grow. Thanks for stopping by the blog!


  1. Thanks for sharing this post, Austin. I’m going to cut and paste the letter present it to our parents on Sunday. I’ll reference where I got it.
    Do you mind if I do other things with just the letter part? Where did you get it? A mom in your church?

    1. Rick,

      Go for it man! I came across this story a few days ago online. Most major news sites covered it. If you Google it you will find tons of news stories about this mom contract with her son. She actually posted it on her personal blog,
      but I copied it from a news site.


      1. Sounds great man! I’ll shoot you a text this week and we can get something nailed down in the next week or two.


  2. I saw the original story and thought it was a good idea, but I never read the actual contract until just now…

    I love this. The conditions this mother has presented to her son are excellent. It is so much more than just the rules of his new smart phone. She has crafted an excellent tool for others to model. She obviously takes her responsibility as a parent seriously. And you can see in a few places that she is humble enough to acknowledge that she is still learning as she goes.

    I love it, and saving the contract for when my girls are old enough to ask for such a device (what is that age again… like six?)

    1. Mitchell,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a few thoughts. I agree with you, this mom seems to be taking her parenting role seriously which is a good thing. I believe we need to encourage parents in our culture to take their job more seriously. And it’s true, kids are asking (and in most cases getting) smart phones at a really young age.


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