Kik, the popular messaging app with over 90 million users, is one of many ways that cell phone users can communicate without racking up cell phone charges via the user’s data plan. It is reported that many of Kik’s users are teenagers, and rumored that one of the most common reasons teens use Kik is to send racy sext messages.
According to Kik’s website:
But Kik isn’t just about instant messaging. Kik fans are already exchanging videos, sketches, smileys and more, with apps that have been built using our Kik API. And we’ve just introduced Kik Cards, features built in HTML5 that let users search for and send YouTube videos, find and share images, Reddit pics and GIFs, and create sketches and memes – without leaving Kik and without downloading anything new!
I was speaking at a parent seminar recently and the speaker who followed me was a representative of the local police department. He said, in no uncertain terms, that, “If your kids are using Snapchat or Kik, they’re up to no good.”
Are kids using Kik mostly for sexting, or doing something else they want to keep hidden? Probably not. Whether your child uses Kik or Snapchat or WhatsApp or any of the other texting or messaging apps out there was probably dictated by one of her friends who was an early adopter. Let’s say your daughter has a friend who heard that Kik was cool, downloaded it and suggested that your daughter do the same, they’re good to go. If they both like it, they’ll probably tell other friends to join in. Not wanting to be left out, other friends will join and Kik will have reached critical mass within that group, and will likely be the platform of choice until something cooler comes along.
Some later adopters may have taken up Kik because they heard that there was some sexting going on, but that’s hardly the reason it took off in the first place. That being said, the age restriction on Kik is 17+, which means that you’re supposed to be at least 17 to download the app. Like most web age restrictions, it doesn’t work. When you download the app, is asks you if you’re 17 or older. That’s it.
I read through a couple of hundred Kik reviews in the iPhone App Store, and there were some references made by users to the fact that they were looking to hook up, for example “Girls 15 – 19 hmu (hit me up)…user name XXX123”, so some of that is happening.
If you are parent who is concerned that your child will begin using Kik, or some other app meant for mature audiences, you can turn on the age restrictions in the iPhone or Android settings, and they won’t be able to download these apps in the first place.
If your teen is using Kik and you want it to stop, you can contact Kik and make a request to have the account taken down.
If your kids are using Kik and you’re OK with it, make sure to remind them that they shouldn’t be messaging with strangers, who may not be who they seem or may be up to no good.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.