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Phone Wars

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Boulder-based author and educator Rosalind Wiseman has devoted her career to shifting the way we examine the social lives of teens. Her book Queen Bees and Wannabees (Crown Publishing Group, 2002) inspired the cult classic Mean Girls, and her most recent offering, Masterminds & Wingmen (CPG, 2013), is in talks to be optioned for a film. Wiseman works with teens to decipher the challenges facing today’s youth and delivers tools to parents and schools for managing those tumultuous years. Among the top concerns: smartphones and social media.

We asked Wiseman one big question:

What’s your advice for giving your tween her first cell phone?

“Have an actual contract. It should include an element of financial responsibility; time frames when the phone is off-limits; the agreement that you, as parents, will always know their passwords; and the explicit promise that if it’s found they are engaging in humiliating or derogatory comments or posts—including forwarding comments made by others—the phone will be taken away until further notice. I made my kids repeat these rules to me in the AT&T store before I handed over the phones. And stay vigilant. My kids are always changing their passwords and then arguing with me about it. I use an app that allows me to shut down my kids’ phones after 9 p.m. Otherwise they would sneak them out. I have compliance issues even in my house.”

Bonus: Read one mom’s reactions to her son’s tweets.

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