Here is the letter from this mom followed by what a hypothetical teen (based on real conversations with teens about the issue) who doesn’t accept her gift might say.
Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good & 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 & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.
I appreciate gifts, but this is not a gift. A gift does not come with strings attached so I don’t choose to accept this. Below are my responses to your strings.
1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
- Thanks mom, but I got my own phone a few weeks back. I’m not sure if you’re the greatest, but I don’t need your strings-attached gifts anymore than you would appreciate dad giving you a gift with such strings.
- Yes you will because I am not taking your phone. I'm saddened by your blatant distrust of me.
- Please mom. These are not 21st century manners. I keep my phone on silent or vibrate and am present in my conversations and life. I can call someone back and focus on what I am doing rather than being slave to a piece of technology.
- That’s okay mom. You can keep my phone. Texting is not the same as using a landline and your outdated instincts are not applicable. You may want to do some research about teens and optimal sleep patterns. I don’t disconnect from the world at 7:30 p.m.
- I have developed the ability to converse with people in a variety of ways. Texting, IMing, voice and more. Being able to text effectively has no impact on my ability to speak effectively. I am developing skills to communicate in many different ways. Additionally, why do you think I must be kept a prisoner of your past? I am quite capable at using my iPhone as a learning tool. Maybe I can teach you some time.
- Yep. Got that. Those are the things I did to buy my own phone and bonus! It has a warranty.
- Yes. I know this. Do you doubt my morals? I am a good person. A phone won’t change that.
- I don’t.
- I don’t need to censor myself. Why do you think so little of me? Am I sensing projection?
- So glad you suggest this mom. I can see you have carefully considered the best way to address this with me. When can we talk about porn?
- Wait mom! You are contradicting yourself. In number 3 you told me 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.
Sounds like you’re going a little schizo but don’t worry. I know proper etiquette. Let me know if you’d like some help.
- Ugh mom. Really? Is this your idea of sex ed? I’m sorry, but you’re so lame. And, let’s lay off the scare tactics. According to my history class even our president got over a little Lewinsky bam chicka bam bam.
- Why do you care how many pictures and videos I take? What makes you think they’ll be stored forever. Brain research does not support this. You’re starting to sound a bit paranoid and insane. Mom you’re scaring me.
- I look at the adults in my world and they don’t do that. It’s pretty normal to keep your phone on you. I’m getting worried about your advice mom.
- OMG mom! Can you spell C-O-N-T-R-O-L-L-I-N-G. I’ll listen to the music I choose, you listen to your Frankie Valli, thank you very much.
- I don’t think you know much about what I play. Talk to me about it and find out what I’m learning. There are more than the type of games you mention that are good for my brain.
- Well, this sounds like mighty fine advice but you force me to be locked in a classroom all day and saddled with homework at night. As far as Googling, why knock it? Did you know a 15-year-old used Google to advance cancer testing?
- I may mess up, but I bought my own phone. You are controlling and I’m not sure you have proved yourself the best person for me to speak to. If that happens I will figure it out and if it is you I pick, I’ll let you know.
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. Merry Christmas!
- I got my own phone that I will use on my terms. I give this phone back to you as a gift that I hope you will enjoy using on the terms that make sense for you. Mom I'm disappointed that you are trying to control me rather than have conversations with me. I bet we could learn a lot from each other if we actually talked.