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Darien Police Coach Parents on Internet Safety

DARIEN, Conn. – Did you know that you can literally keep track of every single word that your child types on their computer and all of the websites they visit without their even knowing?

Computer experts with the Darien Police Department recommend that parents download special surveillance software if they are concerned about children having hidden email or Facebook accounts.

“Every kid knows about private browsing,” said Detective Chet Perkowski. For parents who don’t know, private browsing is an option most Internet browsers have in which websites are not recorded in the history. It allows you to surf the web without anybody knowing what sites you have visited.

At a recent workshop for parents, Perkowski and Officer Joe Licari walked parents through how they can use software called eBlaster to keep track of everything their kids do on the Internet. The program tracks every keystroke and every program they use, allowing you to see every email they read or chat they participate in. It emails reports to parents of all their kids’ computer activity, allowing them to stay on top of what their children are doing.

The software can be set up stealthily so kids don’t know it’s there, or an icon can appear on the screen so they know that what they are doing is public. The software can be downloaded for about $100. There are also similar programs for cellphones that track browsing history as well as texts and phone calls.

Once browser history is erased, it’s basically gone forever. Perkowski said police can forensically retrieve it, but if parents want to find deleted history, it can cost up to $6,000 to get it retrieved. But with the surveillance software, even if the browser history is deleted, parents can still track what their kids are doing.

“None of these programs is a replacement for parenting,” Perkowski said. Parents should know how much they need to monitor their children.

Licari added that kids should be allowed to use computers only in public places, and that parents should know their Facebook passwords and who they are friends with.

The workshop was part of a series called Straight Talk . Parent Jen Montanaro said the program came from the “Mom and Pop Shop” where parents could meet at the Depot each week with youth officers Mark Cappelli and Sam Boccuzzi to talk about issues with their kids. The Depot and the Darien Police will continue offering hands-on workshops on topics that parents are interested in.

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