A few of us here at Mocapay are big fans of The Dom and Jane Morning Show on KIMN Mix 100 FM Radio (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dom-and-Jane-Show/187181064664068?ref=ts&fref=ts). This week, Jane brought up the blog of a young mother of five, Janell. (http://www.janellburleyhofmann.com/). Specifically, the radio show discussed a post from Christmas Day that was addressed to Janell’s 13-year-old son entitled “Gregory’s iPhone Contract”.
In this letter, Janell congratulated her son for crossing into this new, exciting threshold in life – owning a cell phone! However, it did not end there, she then went into 18 rules that accompanied his ownership. Some of these rules were humorous in nature. Like rule 1, “It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?” Other rules prompted responsibility. Like rule 6, “If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the costs and repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.” Or the couple other rules that warned not to visit porn sites or send inappropriate pictures. While other rules focused on encouraging Gregory to not let the technology become indispensible. Like rule 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.” Janell also encouraged knowledge. Rule 16 stated, “ Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.” As you can tell, she covered all her bases in this very loving yet entertain letter. (See the full blog post here: http://www.janellburleyhofmann.com/gregorys-iphone-contract/.)
Janell’s letter poses a lot of interesting questions. I immediately began to question when is the appropriate age for a child to receive a cell phone. As a 2011 University of Colorado at Boulder graduate, I am the youngest employee here at Mocapay, and I was 12 years old when I received my first AT&T Nokia cell phone. I remember I loved the snake game that came on Nokia phones. Then I thought, what did I use my phone for? My parents had just separated and my Dad got me the phone so he could talk to me whenever he or I desired. That is what I used the phone for, talking to my family (none of my friends had a cell phone at that point) and playing snake. Ah, the simple days. According to the study “Parents, Tweeners and Cell Phones: Attitudes and Experiences” by ORC International published in July 2012, 56% of parents of Tweeners (age 8-12) have provided their child with a cell phone. See full study here: (http://www.nclnet.org/images/PDF/tween_cell_survey.pdf). Even though I received my first cell phone at a similar age to Gregory and the majority of children in today’s society, the major difference lies in what those kids can do on their cell phones, or should I say smartphones. It is certainty a lot more than a snake game!
If you ask me, Janell’s letter and rules were brilliant. A smartphone is an amazing tool for me in my professional and adult life. I use my iPhone to make purchases both in store and online, manage my bank account, utilize social media, and communicate with both my personal and professional contacts. “Tweeners” do not have those same necessities. Had I had my iPhone back in middle school, I can only imagine the type of havoc my friends and I could have caused. So now that kids are inheriting this technology at such a young age, they need to maintain a balance. Janell encouraged Gregory to learn, enjoy the world around him, and be safe and respectful of others while still having fun with his new possession. As more and more exciting technology emerges, it is important to remember that children do need that balance, but also that with that balance parents can allow their kids to enjoy the technology in a healthy and productive way. Many of the rules Janell enforces are about much more than cell phone use; they are about life. Check out her blog post, it has even inspired a few Mocapayers to make a phone contract with their kids!
By: Jill Bobrick