You’ve been waiting for this day for quite a few years now, and although you are almost 12, I cannot help but feel it’s too soon for a cell phone. But you have shown yourself to be responsible, trustworthy, and kind.

So, as I hand you this phone, I want you to remember a few things.

Remember the pain you felt when that older boy on the bus unexpectedly took a photo of you and posted it without your permission. The panic you felt as you saw the negative comments rush in. The hurt you felt as people you’ve never met hurled insults at you.

With this phone, never make anyone feel less than. Remember who you are and to remove yourself from group chats that are leaning toward maliciousness.

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Remember how excited you were to visit your old friend and the distance you felt during that visit because she spent the entire time on her device.

Remember to always be present with your friends.

This phone will bring you beautiful images and funny memes. With it, you will create cool videos and amazing projects.

Remember the feeling of pride that comes with your sketching, how incredible it feels to create something with your bare hands and working at it until you get it just right.

This phone will bring you inspiring stories and introduce you to faraway worlds.

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Also remember how much laughter and learning come from sitting and listening to those around you. Pay attention to their faces and mannerisms, to the scents and sounds in the air, to the way things taste and feel. It is in this state of being that you will create your own amazing memories to one day share with those around you.

Remember that perfection is a myth. The authentic, unfiltered selfie is what makes you beautiful.

Remember your value lies in the whole of who you are and not in your individual body parts. Refrain from sharing photos of yourself that do not represent your full humanity.

When you are feeling lonely or lost or angry or afraid, sit in it. If it becomes too unbearable to contain, turn to me or Dad or Zia or a friend or any of your other people. Remember that connecting with human beings in real life is powerful. (So is hugging.) 

Yes, you will socialize with friends through your phone but relating to people happens best in person.

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Remember the smell and feel of a new book. Let this medium forever be your go-to.

Remember creativity comes during the mundane moments. Scroll less and get lost in thought more.

Remember that I am the adult and you will always be my beloved child. My main job is to love you and keep you safe.

Continue to be responsible, trustworthy, and kind.

Have fun my sweet. Let this phone bring you joy and when it does not, set it aside.

There is so much beauty in the world. Remember to look outside your window and inside your heart to find it.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

Laura Bagnarol

Laura Bagnarol is the founder of Be Big Be Brave LLC, a company that provides inspiring programs that encourage kids to be their big, brave selves. She is also the daughter of two Italian immigrants, the sister to five amazing siblings, the wife of one incredible husband, and the mom of three fiery children. Laura lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York. You can follow her @bebigbebrave.