Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS, & Kik Messenger App Comparison

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Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS, & Kik Messenger App Comparison

September 24, 2015
Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Gray Zone

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Red Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Dangerous Social media challenges

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

Table of Contents

In the fall of 2019, there was a lot of speculation about the future of Kik Messenger and whether or not it was going to shut down.

However, in October of 2019 they announced that the app is here to stay.This anonymous messaging app is one of the most dangerous apps we have ever encountered and has a major child predator problem — in 2018 the
BBC reported that the Kik Messenger app was featured in 1,100 child sex abuse cases in the UK alone. Before it shut down, the Kik Messenger app was featured on CBS-affiliated television station WTSP due to the dangers it posed to students.

SMS vs Facebook Messenger vs WhatsApp vs Kik Messenger

What do these apps do?

Kik allows anyone on the app to contact your child and directly message them. The app is NOT based in the USA.
  1. SMS Text messaging is one of the primary apps that each phone has. All accounts are connected to phone numbers.
  2. Facebook messenger (owned by Facebook) allows you to chat with anyone on Facebook.
  3. WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) requires you to verify yourself using a valid phone number as your username.
  4. Kik allows anyone on the app to contact your child and directly message them. The app is NOT based in the USA.

How much do these apps cost?

WhatsApp is free for the first year. Then you have the option of extending your subscription for $0.99 per year.
  1. SMS app is installed on each phone by default. Depending on your mobile plan, you may need to pay for text messages.
  2. Facebook is free to download and to use.
  3. WhatsApp is free to download and try for the first year. After a year, you have the option of extending your subscription for $0.99 per year.
  4. Kik messenger is free. However, it offers in-app purchases (stickers, other).

What can you send using these apps?

SMS

  • 88% of all teens text their friends
  • 55% do so daily
  • Median texts per day ~60

Facebook Messenger

  • 1.49 billion active users worldwide
  • 41% of US teens use Facebook

WhatsApp

  • 900 million active users
  • 8% of US teen Internet users chat via WhatsApp

Kik Messenger

  • 200 million users
  • 40% of US teens & young adults use Kik

What are the app age restrictions?

Kik Messenger has an age restriction of 17+ years old. However, many students 8-18 years old use this app.
  1. SMS: No age limits
  2. Facebook Messenger: 13+ years old
  3. WhatsApp: 16+ years old
  4. Kik Messenger: 17+ years old (However, many students 8-18 years old use this app)

How popular are these apps?

SMS

  • 88% of all teens text their friends
  • 55% do so daily
  • Median texts per day ~60

Facebook Messenger

  • 1.49 billion active users worldwide
  • 41% of US teens use Facebook

WhatsApp

  • 900 million active users
  • 8% of US teen Internet users chat via WhatsApp

Kik Messenger

  • 200 million users
  • 40% of US teens & young adults use Kik

How to create an account?

Only email address is required to set up a Kik account. This allows predators to quickly create fake usernames.
  1. SMS: Users need to have a phone number.
  2. Facebook: You need to create a Facebook account using your email or phone number.
  3. WhatsApp: All accounts are connected to phone numbers. To create an account you’ll need to verify your number via SMS.
  4. Kik: An email address is required to set up your account. This low barrier to entry allows predators to quickly create fake usernames.

How to find other users?

To contact people on Kik you need to know their usernames (or guess their name, like spammers do every day).
  1. SMS: You need to know a user's phone number.
  2. Facebook: Receive messages from anyone on Facebook (initiate contact with users from your Facebook friend list).
  3. WhatsApp: You can only contact people if you know their phone numbers and they are saved to your phone’s contact list.
  4. Kik: Need to know someone’s username (or guess their name, like spammers do every day).

Who can contact you?

  1. SMS: Anyone, who has your phone number. Students can block numbers.
  2. Facebook: Almost anyone on Facebook (depending on your privacy settings).
  3. WhatsApp: People that have your phone number saved in their phone.
  4. Kik: Anyone, who has your username (or guesses it).

How to protect your students using these apps?

On Kik, students can block other users, however we suggest that students delete this app.
  1. SMS: Visit iPhone Settings > Messages > Filter Unknown Senders This will allow you to sort people that are not in the contact list.
  2. Facebook: Add your student on Facebook and monitor who they are adding as friends.
  3. WhatsApp: Students can block other users. Know your student’s phone pass code and review messages.
  4. Kik: Students can block other users, however we suggest that students delete this app.

Are these networks safe?

  1. SMS: Safest for students - trackable and least difficult for parents to monitor.
  2. Facebook: Green zone - users are tied to their real identity and Facebook has built in safety.
  3. WhatsApp: Grey Zone - Facebook safety is built in but not as safe as SMS or Facebook Messenger.
  4. Kik: Red Zone - encourage your student to delete this app. Spammers and predators try to chat with students.

Safety tips for kids using these apps

Remind your students these usernames attract predators: sexy, hot, beautiful, single, bored, girl/boy or similar.
  • Don’t rely 100% on blocking apps or tracking apps.
  • Have a dialog with your students about their future (and what they can do on their phone to get them there).
  • Remind students not to share their personal phone number with anyone online they don’t know.
  • Remind your students these usernames attract predators: sexy, hot, beautiful, single, bored, nice, girl/boy or anything similar.
  • Students should never reply to messages from people they don’t know (especially on Kik app).
  • Other apps exist: Instagram and Snapchat also have robust chat messaging systems your kids might use.

Comment below if you have any questions or tell us for which app we should create our next safety guide.

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