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[March 30, 2014]
In Oxford seminar, Weston police officer gives parents insight on dangers of Internet [New Haven Register, Conn. :: ]
(New Haven Register (CT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 31--OXFORD -- The average teenager spends a great deal of time online and sends 100 texts a day.
That statistic was part of an Internet security seminar presented to about 50 parents Thursday by Weston Police Sgt. Matthew Brodacki at Oxford Town Hall. The event was sponsored by the Oxford PTO and the Oxford Board of Education with a goal of keeping children safe when they are online.
Brodacki, who lives in Oxford, works in the Technical Investigation Unit of Southwest Connecticut. He was joined by Weston Police Officer Jose Mogollon, also a member of the unit.
The two used an iPad to demonstrate the ways children utilize digital devices to access social networking sites, blogs and apps that may not be appropriate for them to view or use.
"You really have to be in tune with that device they have in their hand," Brodacki said. TThe Internet is only 25 years old. It's like the Wild West now." The most important thing for parents to do is to communicate with their children and monitor what they are accessing on the Internet, Brodacki said. "There is nothing wrong with being a parent instead of a friend." Brodacki said parents should insist that their children "charge their devices in the master bedroom," so they cannot use them without their parents' knowledge.
He showed part of video on YouTube that was accessed by searching for a particular song. The video was pornographic, which shocked parents in the audience. Brodacki said not everything on YouTube is "family friendly." The seminar also featured a panel that included State Police Sgt. Dan Semosky; Oxford Superintendent of Schools Tim Connellan; Rich Colangelo, a representative of the state's attorney's office; and Pamela Mautte, director of Valley Substance Abuse Action Council.
Connellan said it's important for parents to find resources to help them understand what their children are doing online. He said school officials have seen students use social media sites to engage in cyberbullying and "some mean behavior." A woman asked Connellan how parents should handle cyberbullying. He urged parents to go to the child's teacher, who in turn will report it to school administrators to deal with it.
After the seminar, resident Jamie Dobrovich, a mother of three, said, "It's amazing what's out there (on the Internet). In reality, it's not safe," she said. "This was really eye-opening." Dobrovich said a similar seminar should be held with children participating in an age-appropriate discussion.
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