Being Smart with Your Smart Phone: A Lawyer’s (and Dad’s) Perspective on Playing and Staying Safe Online

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smart phone safety

Smart phones and social media are a fact of life. By the time a child reaches middle school, chances are that they have their own phone, their own email address, and their own accounts on Snapchat, Instagram, and Furthermore, it is likely that the time they spend looking at their smart phone will far exceed the two hours recommended by the Academy of Pediatrics.

As an attorney, I regularly deal with the “worst case” scenarios. As the father of three school-aged children, I also find myself involved in the “drama” caused by communicating via a smart phone.

At a minimum, children with a smart phone should understand the guidelines imposed by their moral obligation to love their neighbor, their school, church or family’s code of conduct, and the law. I repeatedly see three topics surface when it comes to children and smart phones.

  • Under the law, cyber-bullying is considered illegal harassment. It only takes two (2) mean messages to prove cyber-bullying.
  • It’s against the law to distribute, receive or possess obscene material knowingly. Obscenity includes pictures of male and female private parts.
  • Finally, it is important to know and understand your child’s school’s policies when it comes to the Internet, bullying, and the use of technology. Each school’s policies differ so it is important to understand the school’s enforcement for infractions of those policies.

Because I know how tough it is to draw a conversation out of your tweenager / teenager, I invite you to download a sample “Tech Device Contract” that we use as a family to help set the rules when it comes to using your smart phone. Feel free to make it your own.



Stay safe –

James Bannister

Jim Bannister Managing Partner, Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC

A managing partner of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, James
W. (Jim) Bannister graduated from the University of South Carolina honors program in 1992 as a Phi Beta Kappa.
He received his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1995, after which he served for two years as clerk to US Federal Judge Henry M. Herlong. Since then, he has practiced law with Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey.

Mr. Bannister is a member of the SC Bar, Federal Bar
Association, National Association of Criminal Defense
Lawyers, SC Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and
National Board of Trial Advocacy. Mr. Bannister has been honored among Greenville’s Legal Elite each year the award has been offered.

In 2007, Mr. Bannister earned his Criminal Trial Advocacy Certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has tried numerous felony cases in both Federal and State Courts, and holds notable experience in cases involving Drugs and Narcotics, RICO, Internet Crimes, White Collar Crime, Security Fraud, Tax Evasion, Murder, Criminal Sexual Conduct, Criminal Domestic Violence, and DUI.

On a national level, Mr. Bannister has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2008 for criminal defense and DUI defense, and in South Carolina’s Super Lawyers for criminal defense since 2011. In 2016, Mr. Bannister became one of only three members of the SC Bar to be named as a fellow to the American Board of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Outside of private practice, Mr. Bannister serves on the Board of Governors for the
SC Bar and as a Greenville Water Commissioner. Mr. Bannister formerly served on two criminal law task forces, as appointed by the SC Supreme Court, and as a Commissioner on the Commission on Indigent Defense, appointed by former SC Governor Haley.

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