What it Is:
Kik is popular messaging app for tweens and teens who like to chat with their friends. Kik has an estimated 240 million users worldwide and the average user spends about 35 minutes on the app per use. Like most other social networks and messaging apps, users must be at least 13 to register for a Kik account. You may have heard of the app, as it got a lot of bad press following the 2016 murder of a Virginia teen, 13, who may have met her killer via the anonymous chat system.
What Parents Need to Know:
Kik is a messaging app for Android or iPhone used as an alternative to SMS texting, requiring only a username, rather than a phone number. Kik lets you send texts, pictures, and video. But, it also offers lots of other mini-apps that let you do everything from exchange virtual greeting cards to chat with strangers. Through the app, you can message each other one-on-one or in group chats. Users don’t have to reveal their real name, so it can be totally anonymous. Users exchange photos and videos that no one can see, which then disappear from the sender’s phone. It is more than a messaging app though, you can also access the web from the app and view lots of other content. Content that may or may not be age appropriate. Because the app asks for no personal information and the interactions are not anonymous, it has also become a very popular resource for drug dealers and drug seekers.
Project B3’s Tips and Suggestions:
- Because of it’s anonymity, Law Enforcement warns that Kik may be a popular and very useful app for sexual predators.
- Remind your teen to only share personal information with people that they already know.
- Block users that you do not know.
- The app recommends users choose a username that is difficult to guess to help minimize contact from strangers.
- Discuss the very real dangers and consequences of trusting strangers online.
- Definitely talk to your teens about this app and decide whether or not it is right for your family.
- If your teen does use this app, ask questions. Why do they need it? There are plenty of other messaging apps out there to choose from.