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This mom gave her son an 18-point contract with his iPhone (thenextweb.com)
33 points by ethnt 1783 days ago | hide | past | web | 78 comments | favorite

I want to admit up front that I am not a parent, nor am I a teenager -- I'm just a twenty-something caught between the two age groups.

When I wanted something when I was young, my parents treated me somewhat like an adult -- if I wanted something, I had to either save up money for it, or ask for it on special occasions (birthday, Christmas, etc). If I owned it, they also respected my ownership/privacy over it. Because of this, I feel like I grew up with a good sense of judgement, and a feeling like I could be trusted.

When I look at this list of rules with my "younger" eyes, I see a leash -- this isn't so much a present for me as much as an additional way to keep tabs/hold authority over for the mother. Children need to feel like they have some privacy, and I'm sorry, but knowing your parents can log in and see everything your doing, along with a laundry list of things you can't do makes things the kid might find fun suddenly an experience in anxiety.

What I want to know is, if the kid said no, and used his personal savings/worked a job to get his own phone, would the mom still have this list of things he would need to do, even if he never asked for a dime of help? My guess is yes -- which is why I think this isn't so much the mom helping her son as much as it is her helping herself.

Completely agreed. Things like don't text anything that you wouldn't want the other person's parent to know about seem ridiculous. Again as another person in his twenties, I would have refused this silly deal and bought my own damn cellphone.

>> Again as another person in his twenties, I would have refused this silly deal and bought my own damn cellphone.

Oh. That is such a pointless and drastic reaction. Would ruin Christmas. Just roll your eyes and accept idiotic rules. Idiotic rules tend to dissipate pretty quick with time anyway.

I think the mom knows this isn't how most kids use their cell phones. It's like giving the kid half a cell phone, letting him get used to its power and temptations gradually instead of throwing him into the deep end. As she puts it, he's borrowing her cell phone.


This brings an interesting topic on whether parents have the right to intrude on devices linked to personal information about "their" child. Unfortunately, as another twenty-something in-between these age groups, I must admit that it feels like a solid NO. The right to both physical/virtual privacy is key when influencing a child's moral standing with society, and human rights/ethics. If this child grows up with the right to privacy striped from beneath him/her then, what makes them not do the same to others...

Its the end of the world as we know it...

I think this is terrific.

I was 14 when I joined Facebook, in 2008. My dad, who is no dummy, laid out a series of rules for my Facebook use (he had been on the site for a year or so already).

One of those conditions was that he had my password and could look at my behavior on the site at any time. Occasionally I'd post something that he thought was inappropriate, and we'd talk about it, and I'd get embarrassed.

But in retrospect, I'm grateful. Everyone needs guidance as a teenager, and this is especially true for behavior online. Online behavior is at least as permanent as IRL behavior, and the consequences are often more public or serious.

I think it's really important to guide your kids online. Though your 13 year old may not appreciate it at the time, s/he will when s/he's 20 and has only half as much embarrassing teenage material floating around on their Facebook timeline (or Twitter account).

I think, at least from the sounds of it, the nature of the rules your dad set for your Facebook use might be a tad different than the ones this woman set for her kid's iPhone use. It is not so much that she is setting rules, but rather projecting her own values and pet peeves on the child. I mean, look at this:

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.

What a crock of horseshit. Yes, I hate it as much as anyone when Miss Lisa Gorgeous posts on Facebook a photo of the ice cream she is eating just to get 'Likes', but I'm not going to demand that my kid refrain from that. It may be a bit stupid, but it is ultimately harmless. Not only that, but she is patently wrong that the child's experiences will be "stored in her memory for eternity." We are not computers. We forget stuff. And documenting the things we do is the most reliable way to relive them.

I don't think she was saying never take videos, just be measured. I read an article a while back where the mom said her kids merely lived life as a source of content for their Facebook feed -- and I see the same thing around me. This parent is just trying to help her kid come out well-rounded and balanced (which is not necessarily what we see with kids who are buried in screens all day). Kudos to this mom.

Ah, yeah, I agree. There's a fine line between setting good guidelines for safety and enforcing rules based on highly subjective and personal ideas.

I was mostly impressed by parts like point 18:

>> 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.

That kind of learning is important.

I agree 100% with the stupidity of the memory statement. And I think the rest is actually worse than you say: the mother doesn't appear to be talking about publishing the photos or videos anywhere, just taking them, and this should be perfectly fine.

I learned a different way. My parents were neither super open nor super repressive. Instead, I had a good system where my cousins would guide me by sitting down with me and talking through whatever was going on at the time. It taught me the right ways to behave but more importantly, I reached these conclusions through my own reasoning with guidance when I felt I needed it.

These rules are pretty silly and disrespectful. It is a message from the mom to her child letting the child know that she does not trust him enough to think on his own.

Which is pretty justified, in my experience. There's a reason 13-year-olds are called "minors"; most of them are not yet mature enough to make good decisions on their own, so guidance is necessary.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but the mother certainly knows her child better than you or I do.

Oddly enough, or not, 13 is also around the time where kids start puberty. It's not just a physical change, but also a time where kids are most impressionable. The "kids toys" get put away and they stop behaving like a child, because they are old enough to understand certain things. In short, they are becoming little adults.

This seems a little harsh to me. Everyone takes their phones to school. Everyone sends texts at school. The ship has sailed. If you're the one without the phone, you're the weirdo that nobody will talk to.

This mom should have gotten her son a leash instead. Then at least the power play would have been obvious to everyone.

Or you'll be the one going the library (if there is still one around), concentrate on interesting thing to learn or do instead of re-sharing the video that all the child are sharing. Sometime you'll lack social tools like a mobile phone but you might learn and discover interest that might change your life afterward[1].

[1] I know you can discover stuff on your mobile phone but it's probable that you will just discover the mainstream culture.

Oh noes, "mainstream culture", how evil.

Anyway, phones are just a tool. People that want to do something other than read Facebook all day will do something other than read Facebook all day.

I had an unrestricted Internet connection when I was a kid. I used it to learn C++, Java, and Scheme. I also had a phone in high school (when I lived in Tokyo, it wasn't "a thing" in the US yet) and I never saw anyone excessively distracted by their phones.

My younger brother recently graduated from high school in an era where everyone had a phone. He still did homework and had interests outside of Facebook. So I think you're worrying about a problem that's not actually a problem.

"Everyone" also more or less blindly accepts the gradual stripping away of their liberty, the irresponsible destruction of the environment, and the nutritional content of fast food. Oddly enough it takes people unwilling to accept the status quo for anything to change.

Imagine that.

The things you list there are obviously bad (assuming that by the last you refer to overconsumption of it), but I don't think it is equally obvious that teenagers having cellphones at school is a bad thing just because it's a recent development.

cellphones at school is a bad thing when kids use it to only to text friends that are in the same space (the school), not talking in person and arrange commitments, and abundance of texting ends in empty talks when facing someone, losing sence of important social "skills" needed for life: and that's an important role of schools

"No porn."

Thanks mom!

I'm mortified for the kid.

Boy, am I glad my Mom didn't have a "no porn rule." I'd have been really confused about my body and people's behaviours. (I also would have been in a totally different field; turns out optimizing a 386 for fast porn teaches you everything you'll need for your career.) I might have even turned to religion.

Our society is set up in such a way that porn is one of the few "safe" ways for young people to figure their junk out. Heaven help us if they do censor the net.

He probably thought he'd get to play Angry Birds under his superman blanket. (Remember reading comics with a flashlight?) Instead he got an obligation and an emasculating letter. "Don't say anything you wouldn't say in public" probably would have sufficed. He can't even throw it under a bus for what it represents, because it isn't his. It's hers, and she's loaned it to him... :\

>"porn is one of the few "safe" ways for young people to figure their junk out"

I disagree with this. By virtue of the market, most porn online is targeted towards men. The majority of pornography thus fulfils masculine desires, which is not necessarily what women want.

One Swedish study (abstract here[1], but you can find the stats I use cited elsewhere in full) of 4,000 high school students found that a much larger proportion of girls described pornography as "sexually off-putting" (it is worth noting that Sweden has an extremely progressive sex education policy in its schools). Pornography re-enforces masculine stereotypes - someone viewing pornography at a young age may take that to be 'how it is done', rather than illustrating a fantasy.

Now that doesn't mean there isn't healthy pornography: as other people have pointed out, there's something for everyone when it comes to porn online. But a 13 year old boy (or girl) looking for porn is almost certainly going to start at the lowest common denominator, and that's porn that's often denigrating to women at best.

Before I'm flamed into oblivion, I am not against pornography: I am merely suggesting that typical porn - the kind that you may run across as a teenager, on the more accessible sites - is not "one of the few 'safe' ways for young people to figure their junk out".

This is why I think if you are a parent it is important not to ban, or discourage, your children from watching pornography, but to make sure they understand that porn fundamentally is about fulfilling fantasies, and is not always an accurate portrayal of reality. Those first encountering porn may not necessarily be aware of that.

[1]: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140197110...

Yup. Fantasy != reality. I actually think the Internet helped me learn that early.

By "safe" I mean safer than the alternatives (public indecency, teen pregnancy, unsafe or exploitive real-life situations, etc, etc), not categorically "best," or even necessarily useful for everyone. If girls are statistically put off by porn, that's OK. I want it to be OK to seek what feels right for me too, and I'm glad I was able to at a time when I was high on testosterone; the difference between a sex offender and a nice normal guy can sometimes just be whether or not a person has a "safe" outlet.

Video games provide stress relief and can be seen similarly (girls might not play the same types of video games, even though most FPS games are some of the most common), but as long as people can distinguish fantasy from reality, they can be healthy outlets. Self-moderation is also a learned skill.

I'm not trying to be prescriptive, I just hate to see a nifty tech "gift" become a point of shame (emasculation). As jlgreco said, it's biologically hardwired. IMHO, he's probably still going to look for porn, only now he may feel like it's "bad"... That he's bad. Prohibition is a land-mine of social and psychological problems. Just look at catholic priests.

I agree with your conclusion.

I agree, though I think a "no porn" rule is just as likely to backfire on a parent by driving a child away from religion. When religion is just that thing that forbids doing things that you don't want to do anyway (murder, steal, build a cow out of gold in your backyard, etc) it is easy to never bother putting any thought into it one way or the other. But when you tell a teenage boy that his biologically hardwired desires are evil... there is a good chance that kid is going to start wondering what exactly the purpose of that rule is and how relevant it is to his own life.

It could go either way I think, but it is a very polarising thing to impose on a young adult.

porn is one of the few "safe" ways for young people to figure their junk out.

I'm not exactly an expert at either porn or in-the-flesh sex but... I've always been given to understand that they are quite different.

Porn is vast. You can find videos of pornstars exaggeratingly copulating, like you can find amateur videos of two 20-somethings having perfectly regular sex.

Both, if seeked out by the teenager, are a subset of a perfectly healthy sex-education (much more so than the very politically correct discourse that passes for sex-ed in the US these days).

But how would an uninitiated teen know which ones are exaggerated and which are "regular"? It seems like watching porn would,not be,as stimulating as real sex, so people would seek out exaggerated videos which are not as, um, "educational".

How do you know the sex you're having with your partner is "regular"?

The answer is intuition, and even teenagers have intuition.

"Regular" is strongly influenced, if not completely defined, by what you see around you. Porn might partly reflect what people want but it also definitely changes what they want. e.g. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1124922 People who watch porn are only learning how to make porn.

> "People who watch porn are only learning how to make porn."

That's a very narrow perspective. I can honestly say I have never felt like a porn actor (or director) in the bedroom because I watched porn as a teenager (to which I also attribute my ability to draw, FWIW...).

If there were magically a safe partner for everyone at all times, regardless or age or circumstance, I have no doubt there would be less porn. But we don't live in one of those worlds, we live in an emotionally-wrought, often isolating one. Teenagers feel alone, yet it's also a time when the instincts and cravings are the strongest, the most out of control, and the least satiable. The type of flirting and friendships I can take for granted, are not even on the table for them. Teenagers are still cutting their teeth on their communication skills. They don't know how to cope with a lot of things, one being the deeply-rooted drive to procreate. Pursuing those feelings safely can be difficult. Masturbation is one way for them to explore their feelings in the _safety_ of their own room - to take control of their feelings - without resorting to extremely poor decisions (unwanted pregnancies, unhealthy relationships, getting tattoos that claim they will love someone forever when all they really wanted was to see them naked...). Would a real partner be better? Perhaps. Is that always the best option? No, and I think it's harmful to act as though it were. Everyone has genitals and the feelings that go with them, but for better or worse, society pretends young people don't. For lack of a better term, they are screwed; they are on their own: they get to figure things out, hopefully without ruining their life in other ways.

Some forms of experimentation are more dangerous than others, and watching porn is one of the least dangerous options available to young people to explore their feelings. Ignoring that (prohibition, for example) won't help. Assuming we emphasize the difference between fantasy and reality, porn can serve a person well over the years. In that spirit, I would much rather see a "this film is fantasy, and does not necessarily reflect a healthy realtionship" warning on porn, rather than all those copyright threats... It's pretty obvious what our priorities are.

Relying on porn to teach kids about sex is about as reasonable as relying on the Twilight movies to teach them about how to have healthy relationships.

If it was in the UK it'd never happen anyway, unless the kid buys fake ID and sends the info to the network to enable adult content.

"You must not use this phone to falsely identify yourself as an 18 year old."

Depends what network you are on. I'm on 3 and you have to opt in to the filter, it is not enabled by default on contracts.

That filter only applies to the network (E/3G/4G) not wifi. With ISP's those filters are still opt-in.

Porn never came up in a conversation with your parents? I don't mean on a regular basis but... even once?

Not really. My parents knew that regardless of any rules or restrictions they would place on me, I'd find a way around them and watch porn anyway. So the subject was never brought up.

My father had equally pragmatic rules about alcohol and drugs. He made sure I was educated about the effects of drugs. He made sure that I knew that my mind was pretty awesome and putting it at risk is stupid. (He also knew that kids do such things- but try to be smart about it.) He told me my grades had to stay up and I couldn't lose my job. And he said that if the police came to the house and knew my name- if I was somehow involved enough in something and didn't have sense enough to get away- I would lose all of my freedom. Guilty or not. And if he ever caught me driving under the influence- the same.

I had a lot of freedom, and I made some mistakes, but overall it worked out.

I think that's a really good model for educating the kid, because it's actually a representation of how society at large works. We have lots of freedom, but if we abuse that freedom then we lose it. Driving licenses can be suspended or revoked for breaking traffic rules, hefty fines can be charged for misdemeanors, the individual can be imprisoned for more serious crimes, etc. Props to your dad.

Isn't the reason you have a cell phone so people can reach you when you are out (for safety, for example)? Besides, if he can't take it to school, how can she geo-locate him?

Maybe it's just me, but I've always found rules this explicit in anything but a formal setting distasteful, regardless of how reasonable the rules are. This is one of the main things that pushed me out of university housing after freshman year. Rules everywhere, for everything!

My favorite living and working conditions are those where there are no rules simply because they aren't necessary--a very productive sort of anarchy. Now, this only works on a small scale with the right sort of people. In my mind, a family certainly qualifies, so I would really dislike a contract like this!

I suppose I just feel that petty rules and regulations just strip away my dignity. They seem to imply a profound lack of respect. They're also simply annoying.

On a more startup-related note, this is also one of the reasons I've really enjoyed my time at tiny (< 10 people) startups. They can, and often do, operate in essentially this sort of "anarchy" and are all the more productive for it. No need for pages and pages of company policy simply because everybody cooperates as-is.

The difference being that startups are populated by mature and self-responsible adults, not 13-year-olds in the middle of getting their asses kicked by puberty.

It's called parenting and I, for one, as a parent myself, applaud this mother for caring enough to be involved.

There are too many parents in the world today, who give their kids a new cell phone and keys to a car and turn them lose in the world without any sort of guidance.

Most of these rules just seem common sense (manners, self-respect, etc.), but they need to be observed and passed down. Some of these rules are good for adults as well as children (don't live life glued to a screen). A couple of them expand the responsibility and trust between a parent and child, and provide a system of checks and balances (trust but verify).

The only 2 that I would state differently are 4 & 5. If you trust your child with the phone, also trust that he or she will be responsible enough to respect time (or location) limits (not only that, but as holders of the account, you could see whether the device was used after certain times for certain activities).

I know I see things differently, because I am a parent. And I hate to use this phrase, but "my house, my rules". That doesn't give my wife or I the right to be dictators, and we aren't, but it is our right to have certain rules and expectations for our children. We impose rules based on values we think are important (manners, self-respect, respect for others, etc.), and when our kids move out then they can decide what values they think are important. Kids (esp our 5-yr-old) don't have to like the rules, but they do have to follow them.

I've always thought this approach to parenting results in children that are ill-equipped to make their own decisions. Teach kids critical thinking and good judgement not a long list of rules to memorize. The rules you do set should be for their safety not to control their lives.

I wouldn't be surprised if they were confusing to the smart kid who read them and found contradictory statements. Things like not using your phone in certain situations but also never ignoring calls from parents.

I wouldn't do it. It feels too authoritarian and there are a lot of things in there that are best learnt the hard way, or as and when it happens. And as has been said in other comments, this doesn't exactly seem like a present.

With the kid becoming a teen, it'd probably end up backfiring on the mother when he buys a burner to do all his sexting and banter.

I really liked the clause about no porn. If this mom wants to run her family with Victorian-era iron fist then by all means but trying to stop a 13 year old boy from getting access to porn in 2013 is laughable.

In the USA, it's illegal for a porn site to show him porn until he's 18 anyway.

And how on Earth is this rule enforced? I'm genuinely curious. Even if it's something like asking for SSN if IP addresses s from US, it would be bypassed easily by a simple proxy.

Some ask for credit cards, others it's simply a button that says "yes I'm over 18". It's not really about enforcement, it's about assigning liability.

Also laughable.


A few choice items from the contract, and how I would've read them as a 13 year old.

"1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?"

This phone is not yours. Don't use it for anything important and praise me for allowing you to even look at it.

"2. I will always know the password."

I don't trust you.

"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."

I don't trust your friends or your opinions.

"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."

Once again, I own you.

"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."

You are the only one that can mess up, I am untouchably perfect and this contract is perfect.


This contract makes it seem like the kid is a worthless, non-thinking drone and it glorifies the parents as gods.

#3 taken with #11 creates a situation in which the kid has to decide when to turn the phone off, but at the same time answer every phone call.

#15 states that the kid's peers' music preferences suck.

#1 directly contradicts #6 in regards to who pays for the phone.

This is insane. I hope someone can show me that this is not as I think it is.

I'll offer my perspective as a parent of a 10 year-old:

For #1, I see it as trying to preempt the "but it's my iPhone, I don't have to follow your rules!" argument. The last sentence I read as self-deprecating humor: read it with ;) at the end.

#2, this is doesn't seem unreasonable to me. Same as I wouldn't allow my son to have a lock on the door to his room that I didn't have a key to, I need to have access to his phone as well. Hopefully she'd only use that access in a serious situation (suspected bullying, suspected drug-use, etc). It could be she's always going through his things and never allows him any privacy, but this rule doesn't necessarily mean that.

#4: I see this as setting a strong boundary around when phone calls can be made. When I was growing up, it was very common to see calling late at night as being rude. I don't see this as not trusting his opinion but more as saying don't be on the phone late at night. 7:30 pm doesn't seem very late, but that's hard to say without knowing when they have to be up in the morning.

#5: Many schools ban phones or disallow their use in school, so not taking the phone to school seems reasonable.

#18: I don't see anything in here that says the rules are set in stone. In fact I'd read the last part as saying the opposite. The first part I read as trying to defuse anxiety around breaking the rules. My son often gets anxious when we set a new rule and worries that he'll break it. Letting him know that breaking the rules won't be the end of the world helps.

Presumably #11 trumps number #3. I assume they'd expect a common sense approach.

#1 and #6 don't contradict each other. If I let you borrow something from me and it was broken or lost, I'd expect you to pay for it. I think that's pretty normal.

Finally, 13-17 seem to be more aspirational than actual rules. 13, 14, and 17 could be replaced by: don't become so obsessed with your iPhone you ignore everything else. I didn't read 15 as an exclusion of the son's peer's music. More a suggestion to take advantage of the wide range of music available.

I don't see this as insane, but it's very hard to judge from the outside. We don't know the kid or the mom. It could be she's crazy overbearing or it could be she's just setting up reasonable rules for he son. Being a parent of a high-strung 10 year-old, I tend to read it as reasonable rules for a very smart, very obsessive young teen.

I appreciate the alternative viewpoint.

#1 It would definitely counter the "rules" argument, but that still means the kid can't use it for important purposes (It could be taken away at any time, and the data could be deleted).

#2 The purpose of a contract is to protect both parties. This clause helps give absolute power to the parent. By the logic you've presented, the government should have access to your email, computer and phone passwords as well for the same reasons.

#4 It does set up a strong boundary. It also means that the kid's friends have to remember when the kid is actually in possession of the phone, which will cause problems with the communication aspect of a phone.

#5 Unless the kid does after school activities, in which case not having a phone means being less prepared for an emergency.

#18 The use of pronouns here is important. "The kid will mess up. The parent will take your phone away." It's a forgone conclusion that the kid will mess up. The parent doesn't think the kid can follow the contract as given. "We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning." This isn't so bad taken by itself, but when taken with the context of the first two sentences it calls to mind the classic authority figure type conversation. Ex: Your boss says "Can I talk to you for a minute?". Such conversations are typically one-sided and berating of the non-authority figure.

#3 vs #11: Ambiguity has no place in a contract.

#1 and #6 That makes sense given the lending situation.

#15 is a heavy handed suggestion of music at best. "your peers that listen to the same exact stuff." The double-confirmation "same exact" is unnecessary and serves to show the opinions of the parent. The whole sentence is a command that says downloading music that the kid's peers listen to is off limits.

I'd agree that it is hard to judge from the outside, I'm also not sure it would be easier on the "inside". My largest concern is that the kid has no protection in this contract; It just serves as commands from on high.

This poor kid will definitely have a brilliant career in cryptography. By 14 he'll also have OpenBSD running in VirtualBox running in iOS, out of frustration. Apple might not approve, but he'll hack iTunes Connect at 15 anyway.

Every child is different and family dynamics matter a lot, but for me (when I was a teenager) this would have seemed insane. An attentive parent is good regardless of their chosen method of parenting, but freedom and support is much better than over the top restrictions/policing. Trust is an important part of a parent <-> child relationship, if he doesn't have the chance to make mistakes it's going to be detrimental. I had a consequence free childhood and I don't think it was for the best.

To be fair, it doesn't say the mom will look at everything, just that she could. It looks like she doesn't want him to use the phone in the same way everyone else uses their phones. Setting hours and encouraging him to leave it home and take less photos etc. says to me that she intends for him to limit his use of the device. In other words, she probably isn't policing the rest of his life the same way she is controlling his phone.

As someone who is in twenties and may have family in near future, I worry that it'll be hard to deal with teens in this new 'tech' era.

But then I realized; most of people in my generation were teens in late nineties when Internet was exploding. Our parents didn't know how to use that thing in majority of cases. But we turned out fine. There was unfettered access to porn. Then things like FB/Twitter came where we were putting ourselves (and lot of intimate details) on digital shelves that would never be cleared. Yet, we all turned okay. Agreed, there were occasional mishaps with someone we know. But given the reach of Internet, we all turned quite well. I believe all of us had strong moralistic values that were imbued in us right from childhood. And those values turned out okay for Internet age too.

As someone who doesn't have kid, it will be stupid to pass judgement/opinion on her letter. May be I will be doing same thing since I will be older and worried about safety as well as well being of my child. However, when I was a kid, I remember whenever parents told us strict no for something, I itched to do it (unless it was something extreme). Just out of curiosity. And so did all my friends at that time.

> Our parents didn't know how to use that thing in majority of cases. But we turned out fine

This is actually one of the changes that worries me most about the direction of modern culture. Back in our day, we were free to come to our own conclusions regarding things like hacking, appropriate communication, porn, copying software, shock images, what OS and software to run, etc. Given that it's literally just signals on a wire, there's very little trouble a kid can even get into with just the Internet itself, and most of that is more the responsibility of whomever hooked up critical systems to an anonymous communication network. We grew up fine because we had freedom of thought and exploration.

Now we get ridiculous overbearing lists from this parent and her ilk, treating the Internet as some kind of walled garden entertainment store that just gets progressively larger as a child ages. No doubt there's a heavy dose of moralizing and shakily justified control if the kid installs any software that's not understandable and condoned by the parent (whether it be a new OS, utilities for exploring the infrastructure, progressive transfer protocols, etc). What are the chances of a child brought up within such closed philosophy becoming a complete self-actualizing adult?

> What are the chances of a child brought up within such closed philosophy becoming a complete self-actualizing adult?

That's an interesting thought. Or may be kid will be complete opposite. That would be extreme too.

Let's see what we have here...a gift that can be revoked at any time and an overbearing contract on how to live your life.

No calls after 7:30pm? Mom reading my emails? Don't say anything to a friend that you wouldn't say in front of their parents? No porn? Seriously?

Adolescence is a period of growth and discovery. Let the kid grow up with his generation. Encourage responsible behavior--not inane rules you yourself wouldn't follow. The bit about the music taste was especially rich. Should I apologize for preferring Lady Gaga to Bach? My playlist is unabashedly top 100.

Late night AIM convos and talking to my friends until we fell asleep were some of my fondest high school memories. They kept me going and helped me process the world as it opened up to me. I forged friendships then that are sanctuaries to me today.

To the kid: Let loose. Explore. Engage in activities that interest you. Don't be afraid to fail. Don't fear the judgment of others. Don't be different for the sake of being different. Don't be overwhelmingly goal oriented. Don't focus your life on padding your resume for some college.

You're probably not the introspective, reserved gentleman that your mother wishes you were. Learn to be comfortable with who you are.

> No calls after 7:30pm?

This one seems particularly bad to me, since it implies to me that there is also a "be home by 7:30pm" rule in place. Pretty damn extreme.

As a counterpoint: what if he's on the swim team and has to be up at 5:30 am to make a 6:00 am swim practice every day? A 7:30 pm cut-off on electronics so he's asleep by 8:30 pm wouldn't be unreasonable.

Over-inflated ego? There's no app for that.

With a list like this I would hope that the kid wises up soon and forgoes the device. It's not worth the pain that's going to come when an inside joke via text is seen by mom and all hell breaks loose. Greg is going to have to set some of his own boundaries as he goes into High School, they will be more valuable than an iPhone ever will.

Sad. I wanted privacy in everything I did even as a teenager. With such anal parents I would rather not loan their phone.

I agree. Frankly, I would think that in his situation I would politely decline the phone and it's phonebook full of rules, and work to buy my own. Maybe that's the hidden lesson she was trying to teach him?

I don't know. I find (as an adult) I pretty much follow those same rules in my normal day-to-day usage of my phone (not exactly of course, but close). And I do that because of what I find to be emotionally healthy (connect with live people, not digital icons), polite (don't bug people too late) and reasonable (I have to pay to fix my own phone). It's called parenting, and it's pretty hard. It seems like society needs more of it, not less.

A 13-year-old is not an adult. The fact that the mom is giving her 13-year-old a $600 piece of hardware at all obviously means that she trusts him with some degree of responsibility. An internet-connected pocket computer is a very powerful device, and it'd be ridiculously irresponsible of her to not set out some kind of guidelines that helps to ensure that he uses it responsibly and "inside the rules".

It's called parenting. A 13-year-old is not an adult, and does not have the maturity of an adult. Even if her rules aren't something that you or I would personally agree with, good on her for entrusting him with a large responsibility and setting out the guidelines for that responsibility. It is her duty as a parent to do exactly this - to trust her children with progressively more responsibility and freedom, but to also set hard-and-fast boundaries that shall not be crossed.

I like to say "I was such a good parent before I had kids". Parenting is all nice and neat and easy until you actually have to do it. It's really easy to armchair quarterback this one, but I'm pretty certain that anyone without kids is wholly unqualified to pass judgment on this one.

I don't think that the people who commented above are "armchair parenting." They're speaking in the position of the 13 year old kid. And we are all definitely qualified to pass judgement as a 'teenage' version of ourselves.

'A 13-year old is not an adult.'

- This probably varies per culture. My personal opinion is, if you treat someone as an adult, they will behave like an adult. If you treat them as a kid, they will act as a kid.

Surely you recognize how ridiculous it is to give parenting advice from a teenager's perspective. Parents have been teenagers. Teenagers (at least at the heart of this discussion) have not been parents.

Not at all. With the powers of reflection and self-consideration, I can think back to how I was raised and make judgement calls on the merits of various parenting techniques that I experienced.

Presumably, in the case of first children, this is what parents have been doing since the dawn of time.

This is not the way to teach a kid responsibility, with a list of seemingly (to a 13 year old) arbitrary and draconian set of rules. Let the kid save up his own money, buy the phone in person, and be responsible for it. That's exactly how it works in the adult world and fits perfectly in this situation, seems like a fitting way to teach responsibility. This mom just seems like a self-aggrandizing control freak.

It will teach the son how to live outside a set of rules while representing himself as abiding by them, though. And that is an essential part of life in any civilized society.

IANAL but isn't it explicitly not a contract; he doesn't have to sign or agree to anything. With the "Acceptance of this present", doesn't that make it more equivalent of a EULA stuck at the bottom of this page?

Or, since it sounds like he got given it first, it's the equivalent of putting an EULA inside the box of something that says "By opening this box you agreed to the following contract:".

Being that we're talking about a legal minor, and their legal guardian, who has complete legal control over them, then what you say makes no sense.

Of course, since he's a minor, he couldn't sign a legal contract anyway. He'd have to have a guardian sign the contract for him (dad, maybe?).

Anyway, dictionary.com says "an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified."

As a parent (of now adult children) I like these rules, but can see pushback potential from today's kids. In retrospect, I wished I had, in particular, pushed for #3, having experienced calling the phone I was subsidizing and getting only voicemail.

And I like #6. and #7 is what parents should be doing.

The password thing (#2) was not something I would ask, nor the other privacy things, as I assumed they already had enough judgement by that time to have their own privacy. In fact, my Facebook rule for my kids and their peers that I know has always been that they invite me to be friends, not the other way around.

And #15, #16, and #17 are things that should be part of family life already.

#11 might be a good idea, but what adults even do that? As a parent, if you expect a behavior from your kid, the best way to get that behavior is by setting an example.

I'm not sure, what could be a good reply to a list of rules like this. I guess, accepting the phone, rolling your eyes and hoping that stupid rules will gradually dissipate.

Reductio ad absurdum also works well, for particulary stupid rules.

Or in other words, Malicious Obedience?

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