Teenagers are always looking for new and fun ways to connect with their friends on their smartphones. The Kik app offers one more opportunity to send individual and group chat messages with text-based messages, photos, or videos. Because students can easily connect with strangers on the app, parents need to stay aware of who their teens are chatting with online.
What is the Kik app?
- The goal of Kik is “connecting the world through chat”
- Each user creates a unique username and must acknowledge they are 13 or older, but there is not an age identification process beyond entering a valid email address
- Users can chat one-on-one or in group messages with known friends or strangers
- Users can share videos and photos in their chats and groups
- Kik “bots” offer more options for users to chat and play games with automated responses in the app
- Users can download and share their Kik Codes or share their unique username to allow others to find them on the app
- The app saves between 200 and 1,000 messages in each chat thread depending on how long ago the chat happened and the device being used
Where is Kik available and who can use it?
- Apple app store: 17+
- Google Play: T (Teen)
- Owned by Media Lab.AI based in California
- Kik Terms of Service
- Users must be 13 years of age or older in the United States
Kik in the news
[A] 53 [year old man],was indicted for five counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor and six counts of illegal use of minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.WHIO
[The man’s] phone showed that he texted a 13-year-old girl more than 400 times, pretending to be a high school sophomore named “Jack” and enticing her to him send nude selfies, investigators said, adding Bywater also sent the seventh-grader his own nude photos.Ledger-Enquirer
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department regarding the online activity of a 44-year [man]. During the investigation, Agents determined [he] possessed and transmitted several dozen images and videos consistent with child pornography on the mobile messaging application Kik.WGNS
[A] 42 [year old man], met a [14 year old] ‘girl’ on the Kik messenger app where he constantly asked her to show him what she looked like. Whenever she refused, he threatened to sever contact between them… As the conversation progressed onto Snapchat, he told her she was ‘pretty’, asked if she wanted to be his ‘boo’ and told her he ‘didn’t want any girl other than her.’Manchester Evening News
Why should parents care about Kik?
- Age verification does not exist beyond a basic user agreement
- Without an email, phone number, or age verification process, users never be sure who other users are in real life
- Strangers can easily ask for personal information to exploit other users
- Like anything online, users can screen record “private” conversations. They can then share messages or recordings off the platform for other purposes
What can parents do?
- Talk with your students about the danger of talking to strangers, even online. Consider a family rule of talking to friends “in real life” on any social media platform
- Remind students to not share information in the app beyond the required email address. Do not allow the app to find friends using the contact information in your phone’s address book
- Help your students find age-appropriate ways to meet new friends (sports, activities, moderated student groups, etc.)
- Ask your teen to show you their chat messages in Kik. Note: logging into their Kik on another device will delete their chat history
- Remind your students to never meet someone from the internet. Other users may not actually be who they say they are offline
- Tell your students they can always come to you (or another trusted adult) if they feel uncomfortable
- Teach your teen to not respond to messages from strangers that make them feel uncomfortable
- Join the SmartSocial Very Informed Parent program to learn how to start conversations about shining online with your students