Janell Burley Hofmann was an unknown name till a few days back. Not surprisingly, because she was a cute mother & blogger somewhere in the US who wrote her experiences randomly. What changed her status was the 18-clause code of conduct that she shared with her blog readers – a code of conduct that she had written down for her 13-year-old son who was gifted with an iPhone, but as they say, with “strings attached”. The 18-point “contract” highlights the points that her son must abide to for possessing the all elusive iPhone. Washington Times states that Hoffman’s blog site crashed down after the blog post went wildly viral. If you read the clauses you will know why.

Hoffman gives away points to her son with a mix of reason and common sense. Some of the points are really heartening given that today’s parents are as much to be blamed for exposing their kids to technology where they continuously live under the shadows of their virtual alter-egos (example, facebook profiles). One of her point says,  “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 FOMO – fear of missing out.” Another practical and responsible point says, “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.  Wonder without googling.”

For me, this is excellent parenting, in an age when parents are continuously striving to make a superman/superwoman out of their kids. How many parents actually encourage their children to look out of the window at the sun and hear the birds chirp? That this blog post has gone viral is a breath of fresh air to parents and children across the world, which has already witnessed technology being misused and all private stuff going unpleasantly and embarrassingly viral. It’s also an eye-opener for those who refuse to look beyond the Internet.

Technology is an enabler. It started like that and that will always be its true nature. When you design, package and attach human emotions on to it, it has the potential to wreak havoc. Haven’t we heard innumerable stories about social profiles being a cause of depression amongst the children? The children of this age are largely affected by the internet revolution, where everything can be clicked and documented, and even a 12-year-old bears the pressure of maintaining an image online. Psychological impacts can be seen in our everyday life. No wonder, sometimes the govt has considered banning social media.

Great Job Mrs. Hoffman. Finally, sensible content has gone viral. You can read the blog post by clicking here

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