Kik: The app children love so does sexual predators
What is Kik?
Kik is a free texting app that has no character or texting limit. It allows children to create a username and text strangers without sharing their mobile number. Users can share photos, videos and games on this platform. This app is available on the Iphone, windows and android devices.
Facts about Kik:
- Enables users to chat to strangers online and share photos or videos with them
- There are 200 million registered users on Kik. Majority of its users are teenagers.
- Messages are hidden away in the app which makes it difficult for parents to find them
- It is filled with ads and in store purchases.
- Children under 13 years old are not allowed to use this app
Why is Kik unsafe for your children?
- Chat to random strangers
Besides the obvious reasons of the app enabling your children to chat to random strangers online, Kik is associated with child exploitation. Last year the police of, North Carolina arrested a sex offender who was found using this app under multiple usernames and obtained inappropriate photos and videos of children below the age of 12.
2. Paradise for predators
A convicted child molesters told CBS News that Kik is a paradise for predators. There are many crimes that have been facilitated through this app. For instance, William Steinhaus, who pled guilty in late 2016 took sexually explicit pictures of himself with a 2 year old. He used Kik to send those photos to other users, some of whom he talked with about what to do to the infant. There are similar crimes found relating to this app.
3. Children are targeted for sexual grooming
An investigation by Forbes and Point Report shows that young teenagers age about 14 are being targeted for grooming through this app. Kik has also not deleted the profiles of those sexual predators.
The problem is many parents have not heard about Kik.But their children surely have heard of it. The app has 15 million users and 57% of its users are aged 13–24 years old (Forbes.com)
4. No form of security measure in place
The problem I see with this app is that it does not have any form of security measures in place. It allows anonymous conversation without any form of privacy. Kik are aware of the problems with its app and are encouraging users to report any form of inappropriate messages or pictures.But is this enough to protect our children? The company is also working with the police to report users that seem to post a danger to children.
In my opinion, Kik should be doing more to protect young teenagers. There are significant amount of sexual content on its platform and they should be removed.
What if your child is already using this platform?
Communication with children and teenagers are key. Inform them of how unsafe Kik is and why they should not share personal information. Show them videos of the dangers of Kik and how it is used by predators. These type of videos can be an eye opener to your teenager if they are unaware of such issues.
As a parent it will be difficult to control what your children are doing online. The best you can do is to keep informing them of any information or news you have read or heard. Educating them on the dangers of some online activities and allowing them to have an open conversation with you. It is important for a teenager to know that their parents are also aware of the latest tech trends so they know that you understand what they are going through.
My advice is not to slam their phone if you know they are on Kik after reading this article rather to have an open conversation with them. Allow them to take you through the app and build trust with them.
If you really want to test your children then create a random username and try chatting with your child as a stranger and see if they respond. You will need your child username to do this. I myself am not sure if this is a good method as it can break your child’s trust but might also save them from potentially life changing incidents. This is a debatable subject and I would like to know your opinion on this.