Be the solution!

iphoneSince the suicide of Tyler Clementi, I have had a new direction and drive in my teaching and scholarship.  I am committed to making sure that our K-12 teacher candidates are well-versed in all aspects of digital citizenship.  It is imperative that 21st century learners, educators and parents understand the seriousness of living in a networked world.  According to the Pew Report in April 2012, 95% of 12-17 years old are online and 80% of those teens are online using social media sites.  If schools ban devices or block social media sites at school, how can teachers model what it means to be socially responsible online?  We desperately need to engage our children into this critical conversation.

Props to Janell Burley Hofman for writing and sharing such an important letter to her son, Gregory’s iPhone Contract.  As a society, we need  more of this!  Our young adolescents will not understand how their actions, words, pictures and videos can directly influence their own lives and the lives of others if we don’t take the time to ask them to be part of this conversation.

Thank you Janell for the inspiration!  As I say every semester, “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”  Here’s to 2013, a year of being the solution!  I can’t wait for our spring semester to begin later this month because I’m going to focus on rules #7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.



  • Looking at the contract is a lot of handle, and I am 20. This boy is 13. How in heavens name is he supposed to understand this. Here have a gift, except its not a gift its my phone that you can use, almost never. You cant take pictures because memory is more important. Answer your phone but don’t and don’t look at porn, excuse me, what is porn? Also why get me a phone if i cant communicate with people this way because “life skills are important”. I want your password because i do not trust you, with anything, enjoy! Enjoy different music but only download new or classic genres because youre generation is losing its music taste and YOU must bring it back. If you mess up, Ill take your phone because that will help you learn, because taking away items has been proved so effective. Play games but only ones that will make you smarter. Brain teasers are fun! (not)
    Merry Christmas

  • When I was in high school, the IT department blocked everything. This made the social media networks even more desirable to students. If they were available and being talked about by teachers, we may have learned to use them responsibly from the start. Now, as college students, we are realizing the importance of using social media sites and other technology responsibly and we are trying to erase our mistakes. If we had models in the beginning, maybe the problem wouldn’t be as bad as it is today.

  • I read the iPhone contract and think that what this mom did is wonderful, and so rare in society nowadays. I feel that a lot of parents are so disconnected with their children because everybody is so absorbed int heir own phone, so it is refreshing to see a mom have her son disconnect from social media to appreciate the world. I personally think that people are too into their phones to appreciate what is happening in the “now” and rather than live in the moment to create memories; they try to document it through pictures and want to tweet about an event rather than appreciate the event. I agree that students need to learn how to use devices responsibly, without intending to hurt others; and that this starts with teachers learning the same thing.

  • I feel like 13 year olds should have some restrictions to a cell phone. I think younger kids should have cell phones as a safety reason, not for entertainment. An iphone is meant for older kids I think, I think she can make rules since she pays for it, but once he’s like 15, or old enough to get a job and pay for it himself then I feel like he should be able to use the phone to his own discretion. Eventually if he becomes the man she raised her son to be, he won’t be doing those things anyway- at least the inappropriate things.

  • Though some may think this is controversial, I think is is a good idea for this mother to make this contract. Though her son may find it not only annoying, but hard to follow, he is also thirteen. Rules do need to be applied, espcecially in this generation. At least this mother cares, never mind the fact that her son will not have a negative imprint on the internet, like most kids today. He will know how to handle technology, not only now, but in the future as well,when he is faced with more decisions that includes in technology. I think this mother has the right intention, I dont agree with every rule ( knowing the password, he should feel trusted) however I think she has the right idea and agree with most. Technology can have a negaive effect on today’s society and I think it is important to know how to not only safely use it, but to be able to live without it and appreciate the world around us, as difficult as it may be for some.

  • I like it and dislike it. Some of the rules in there I would absolutely hate if I was given this by my mom. Some don’t even make sense! What happens if the one day I leave my phone at home, something bad happens and I can’t contact anyone. But I think that the mom had extremely good intentions. Some of the rules, I would agree to. Some I wouldn’t. I would personally try to compromise some of the rules.

  • I also believe that if we take devices out of schools we will not be able to teach students what it means to be digitally responsible. If technology is used in a positively, appropriate way, our teaching can be so much more effective! Individuals, especially educators, need to learn to be comfortable with technology in order to teach and reach students that much more effectively.

  • I agree with most of this contract, and there are some rules I disagree with. I think that I agree because I was given some of these rules when I got my first cell phone as a 6th grader. I believe there are some guide lines that a parent need to set. But there are some rules that are crazy. For example: the mom says to always answer the phone for mom and dad there is no reason not it. But then she askes that the son leaves the phone at home some day. This is contradictive. Just my thoughts on the contract.

  • I can understand where the mom is coming from. Having a cell phone is a responsibility and a priviledge for children. It is also important to talk with the child to tell him what is and is not appropriate when using a devise where the world is at his fingertips. However, in this situation, i believe the son should be provided with a cellphone for emergency calls/situations so some of these the mother would even have to worry about.

  • I find most of this contract to be very useful, however growing up in today’s age it is often difficult to keep up to such high standards. It is important to not make our entire lives revolve around the iPhone. I feel that this contract might be stepping over some boundries of trust. Instead of a contract I feel as though a higher relationship of trust would be must more helpful, in this way there is not sneaking. I grew up with this relationship rather then a set contract and I feel like I learned much more this way.

  • I personally think that the Iphone contract is a good idea, but some of the rules went a bit too far. A 13 year old should not have to give his mother his phone at 7:30pm, nor should he be told to leave it at home sometimes. The whole point of having a phone is in case of emergencies and it is needed.

  • Jennifer Lonergan

    When I first read this article I thought it was insane! I couldn’t believe that a mother would do this and I know I would hate it if my parents gave me a contract like this one. However, after reading through the entire contract, the idea started to grow on me. There are too many people that use their phones in the wrong way today. When I’m walking down the street in town, I always see AT LEAST 4 or 5 people with their faces in their iphones or other forms of technology. It’s not safe at all!! I also hate it when I’m talking to someone and they get out their phone and text someone else. If I am talking to someone then i want their full attention. It’s good manners, and most kids today are getting phones younger and younger and aren’t learning those good manners or how to use their manners while having a phone. I will admit, I have done this a few times, but as soon as I realize what I am doing I try to always put my phone away right away, because I don’t want to be rude. Technology has taken over our lives, and we have to learn how to use it in a positive way. I think that this contract is a smart idea for a young teen or preteen for their first phone. It reminds them not to let their phones take over their lives like so many people have done today. As much as I now think this contract is a good idea, I don’t think it is one that should stay in effect as the child gets older. My father taught me that no one is to know my passwords for anything. I even keep my passwords from my parents. It’s not that I’m hiding anything, it’s just a privacy thing. If either of my parents asked for one of my passwords I would give it to them instantly, but I know never to share my passwords with anyone else. As long as a parents teach their children safe phone rules, then I think that the contract is a good idea. It instills good values and reminds kids to live life outside the world of technology once in a while and not to spend their whole lives staring at the screen.

  • Tyler Clementi, Jake Gamble, Baily O’Neil…the list goes on, unfortunately. I’m a retired attorney who writes about bullying. Here’s my story. Thanks for reading and keep up the great blog:

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