NJ police chief offers spy seminars for parents of Facebook-friendly kids

Free hacking seminars instruct parents in installation, use of spyware

Maybe it was the Craigslist Killer that put them over the edge, or perhaps the "Dateline" segment “To Catch a Predator” freaked them out. Whatever the impetus, the Internet has one police department schooling parents on how to spy on their kids’ activities online -- particularly when it comes to Facebook.

The police department in Mahwah, N.J. is offering free hacking seminars, organized by Police Chief James Batelli and his detectives, to teach parents how to install and use spyware on home computers, writes Chris Matyszczyk of Cnet.com.

 Batelli, a father of a teenager daughter, practices what he preaches in his own home.  


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He tells Chris Glorioso of NBC New York that he is motivated by stories of inappropriate Facebook photos threatening young people’s college and career ambitions. He also worries about child predators who troll social networking sites looking for prey and warns against being naïve.

“If you sugar-coat it, parents just don’t get it," he told NBC New York. "Read the paper any day of the week and you’ll see an abduction [or] a sexual assault that’s the result of an Internet interaction or Facebook comment."

In the seminars, detectives show how to install the $80 software package that works by recording keystrokes, allowing parents to hack their children’s Facebook passwords and get into the account.

Another less extreme option for parents to monitor Internet activities may be cyber-nanny software that blocks access to inappropriate websites, psychologist Dr. Jeffery Kassinove tells NBC New York.

Although some teenagers do figure out they are being monitored, the software can still serve as “a powerful check and balance,” said one mother.

"If you can see that they’re going down a path that they shouldn’t be going down or posting things they shouldn’t be posting, then you could be heading off something that you may never be able to turn around,” said Carolyn Blake, a mother of a teenage son, according to NBC. “I do think the reward is worth the risk.” 

About the Author

Alysha Sideman is the online content producer for Washington Technology.

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