“Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.” Who wouldn’t want to find a message like that next to their Christmas gift, right? Only in the case of 13-year-old Greg Hoffman, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this was only the beginning of an elaborate 18-point contract he had to abide by in order to keep using his brand new Apple iPhone.
Greg Hoffman had been begging his parents for an iPhone for a whole year, so when he finally fond it under the Christmas Tree, he was the happiest 13-year-old in the world. Only his joy was short-lived, for with the popular smartphone came a contract put together by his mom, Janell, which conditioned the use of the gadget. The first of 18 points in the contract made things very clear for Greg. It read: “It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?” His first reaction was “Why? Why did she really have to do this?”, but his mother revealed her motives on ABC’s God Morning America: “What I wanted to do and show him [is] how you could be a responsible user of technology without abusing it, without becoming addicted”. Although she ultimately admitted the 18-point “document” was created partly in jest, Janell Hoffman wanted to help her son avoid many of the pitfalls that both smart phone using teens and adults fall prey to, and teen behavior expert Josh Shipp agrees with her. “You wouldn’t’ give your kid a car without making sure they had insurance,” he says. “And so giving them a cell phone or a computer without teaching them how to use it responsibly is irresponsible on the part of the parent.”