A cell phone contract for middle schoolers

When it finally happened, I was sort of prepared. As prepared as one can be when audible sighing starts, followed by mumbling that may or may not include curse words.

Jake and Zach were almost teenagers when the request came for a cell phone. Before an overnight school field trip, Marc and I decided it was best to have a way to reach them directly that didn’t involve their friends or a chaperone who may or may not need a drink to get through the trip.

There are a lot of cell phone contracts out there. I mixed and matched a few that work for our family, and added my own particular brand of twisted humor. Here’s the result.

Dear Jacob and Zachary,

Congratulations, you are now the proud owners of an Android. According to a few teachers and several psychologists, you are good & responsible boys and you deserve this gift. 

However, like the condoms we’ll be handing out before every social event in high school, this present comes with rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. We hope you understand it is our job to raise you into well-rounded, healthy young men who can function in the world and coexist with technology and the Playboy Channel, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your Android ownership.

We love you madly & look forward to sharing several million text messages with you. It will be nice to receive some that mommy doesn’t have to delete before daddy reads them.

  1. It is our phone. We bought it. We pay for it. We are loaning it to you. I know. We rock.
  2. We will always know the password.
  3.  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.
  4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm on Sunday night. It will be shut off for the week and turned on again after homework on Friday night. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line at 2am after discovering something cool on YouTube, don’t do it with their cell. Listen to those instincts and respect other families as we would like to be respected.
  5. It does not go to school with you*. Have a conversation in person and make eye contact. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
  6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, winds up in Evan and Andrew’s backpack, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, write someone’s research papers, or save some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
  7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Be like daddy, not mommy. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others and stay the hell away from Gawker.  Be a good person first and always – or you will break your mother’s heart.
  8. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device that you would not say in person.
  9. Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with your Nana in the room. While she’s saying the rosary.
  10. No porn until college.  Search the web for information you would openly share with your mother. Pretend she has a rosary. If you have a question about anything, ask your mother or your father. We know a lot more than Evan and Andrew. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll ask Grandpa. Then tell you the opposite.
  11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at Shul, or while speaking with another human being. Don’t be the asshole who gets kicked out of the movie. (Read: shot in. We live in Florida, after all.) You are not a rude person; do not allow the Android to change that.
  12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. You are not a high school teacher. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Wait until you are in your mid-forties and if you can still see your feet, then maybe you can photo brag to selected individuals you’ve already prescreened to avoid venereal diseases. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.
  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 until Alzheimer’s kicks in.
  14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than the fear of missing out.
  15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift and seriously, stop with that dubstep shit. Expand your horizons.
  16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then. We aren’t raising dumbasses.
  17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger who’s old, like over 80. Wonder without googling.
  18. You will mess up. We will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You, your brother and your mommy and daddy, are always learning. We are on your team and are in this together.

Agree to these terms or kiss that new phone goodbye. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the Android, 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 minds and giant hearts above any machine. We love you. We hope you enjoy your awesome new Android. 

Now stop searching for how to correctly spell Dagobah and get to bed.

Mom and Dad