Kik – What It Is and What Parents Need to Know

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kik-logoParents are concerned about sexting – and rightfully so. But as a result of that concern, I believe there’s also a heightened sense of awareness among parents. I get emails from parents every day, asking how to prevent their child from downloading certain apps, and what’s the best way to monitor what their child is doing on their smartphone. Sexting continues to be an underlying concern in all of these conversations — probably because kids and teens use their smartphones to text more than anything else, and according to kids in the UK, sexting is just the new way to flirt. But what a lot of parents aren’t aware of is the fact that their child doesn’t need to be on a texting plan in order to text. There are plenty of third-party apps that offer texting services for free, and one that has come up in several conversations that I’ve had with parents is Kik.

What Is Kik?

Kik is an instant messenger app—think AIM chat or texting. The app is available for free on all mobile platforms, and is well-received by the millions of people, mainly because it can replace a texting plan through their cell provider. Through their data plan or Wi-Fi connection, Kik users can send and receive text messages and photos to an individual on their Kik contact list, or they can start a group chat with several Kik contacts. Instead of using phone numbers, each Kik member has a username. This username can be accompanied by a profile photo, if the user wishes, but ultimately this is Kik’s way of creating a sense of privacy among their users.

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Inviting People to Kik

Kik users can use the Invite a Friend option to invite new people to connect with them on Kik. This can be done in several ways, but thekik 2 method that poses the greatest risk to your child’s privacy and safety is the ability to invite people via social networks. With the click of a button, your child can reach out to the public communities on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Tumblr (among many others) with the message “Kik me”. No surprise here, “Kik me” is Kik’s way of starting a new instant message conversation between the sender and the recipient, whoever they may be.

Kik users can also manually search for someone’s Kik username and start a conversation that way, or they can dig into their phone’s contact list to see who’s already on Kik. Of course, the latter is a much safer approach to connecting with people on Kik since these people are already known to the user in some form or another.

Privacy and Parental Controls

Though Kik makes it easy to block other Kik users and ignore message notifications from new people, they offer zero parental controls, leaving it up to the child or teen to set these privacy settings on their own.

Another Kik safety concern that you should be aware of, and this is credited to Michael Sheehan’s blog titled “Parents Beware: Instagram & Kik Messenger Are a Dangerous Combination & What Social Dangers to Check For”, is the fact that kids and teens are sharing their Kik username on public social networks, like Instagram, through comments and profiles. As you can imagine, doing this opens the door to unwanted solicitations from Internet trolls, “pervs” and cyberbullies. In Michael’s case, his daughter’s friend received a request to chat on Kik via Instagram and the next thing she knew she was being asked to send naked photos of herself.


The reason I wrote this piece wasn’t to bash Kik or to tell you that it’s an unsafe app for your child or teen; whether you feel it’s safe enough is entirely up to you and the maturity level of your child. But just like with any app or website that isn’t specifically created for children (and thus COPPA compliant), the safety and privacy risks tend to be more prevalent. With that being said, if your child is 12 or younger, they shouldn’t be using Kik at all. If your 13 or older teen prefers to use Kik instead of texting, and you’re saving some money in the process, you don’t need to delete the app from their phone, just have a very serious conversation with them about the safety risks involved with sharing their Kik username in public social networks and forums. While you’re at it, take five minutes to make sure they’re using the privacy settings.

The Internet will never be a totally “safe place” for our children, so we as parents have to remain vigilant and educated in order to take what we learn and pass it on to our kids.

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  • Hey… So I’m 16 and like alot of people my age I use Kik… And apparently unlike most people my age I tend to use full sentences, try for proper grammar, and had parents that didn’t fuck up too royaly… I’ve used the internet for as long as I remember and I’ve not once been contacted by someone I didn’t like… In fact you could say I’m street smart that way… Yeah I once in a while give my Kik info out publicy but only to shut my friends up aboot me being a hermit… I actually only know one person I met on Kik and that’d be my boyfriend… Whom I was introduced to by my best friend… Found out he lives in TX… But the loving guy he is he decided to come here to visit… And before you start typing that imma get raped and kidnapped nope… I’ve gotten multiple pictures of him… None of which were below the chest… So when you say… “Ohhh kids can’t be trusted with electronics” or “we shouldn’t let our kids use the inter net at all” you’re just the same if not worse than the parents from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… Only difference is instead of letting electronics raise your kids your sending them back to the stone age… These are the same kids that’ll grow up into out of touch, homophobic, racists… Or Drumpf supporters… And nobody wants that… Your kids’ll realize you’re wrong in your ways and that the internet is here to stay and they’ll teach their own children how to use the internet and let the world go round… Meanwhile you’ll still be waving your “shut the internet down” poster outside an IBM factory

  • To all the Imature Kids on here:

    “We should let our kids mature”? Listen, being mature is not sexting till 2 am with a total stranger and allowing your whole life to suffer for your compulsive problems. I totally agree with all of the parents on here. We have to do something about this. And it DOES start at home. My husband and I have been trying to monitor our teens behavior for the last 4 years (since we have allowed him to have electronic devices) and he continues to find loop holes. It is like a drug. This KIK is just as bad or worse than any of the other sites, because I feel like they have no rules. If I have to do it, there will be no more electronic android/apple devices in our house. This is absolutely ridiculous
    PARENTS BEWARE!!!!!!!!

    • child is LYING or a NON-CARING HUMAN has put photos and messages on anoher on kik what can I DO! i need to stop and find out what phone number was used to post such ILLNESS of them out here AND CAN/WILL THE LAW HELP. How do I get started PRAY YOU TRULY CAN HELP, MUCH………………………………

  • I agree with truthmetold. Just like television, Kik should never be a primary babysitter for your kids without proper supervision. I have been around many places online that are occupied by young teens and adults alike, and there are always, ALWAYS sex predators lurking around out there, and in most cases, there are a lot more of them than we care to think. Teach your kids to ONLY accept Kik contacts with people they know, and make sure they understand to instantly block people they don’t know. Teaching kids the proper precautions to take to avoid being the target of potential predators should be included in any upbringing you can utilize with your children, and should be as mandatory as possible. It’s up to the kids and young teens to utilize proper judgement and responsibility when using these devices. This is an evergrowing problem that seems to have no real solution, but it’s up to the parents to educate the kids on what to watch out for, and that same type of education may also need to be included in the schools’ curriculum as well. The wiser our children are about online predators and where they are capable of lurking, the safer our children will be.

  • I am not a parent myself, I’m still a minor. So this is more of a message to the minors who are against the parent. If the child/teen is not responsible, or mature enough to have the app, then they should have it taken away. I get the parents perspective and the teens perspective. The question you must ask, and actually think about is, Are you mature enough, or responsible enough to have an app that could introduce you to people all around the world that you do not know? Is being on your phone effecting your grades? School sucks I get that, but it is important. It’ll help you be successful in life. If your parent feels you’re suffering from internet, they may be right. You are putting yourself at risk emotionally, as well physically. Try to look at it from a parents perspective.

  • this stuff is so titillating that my kid sneaks it under his pillow, sometimes after I’m asleep. I have found multiple internet and chat-enabled devices in his bed. his sleep, his schoolwork, even attendance is suffering. I know…lock the devices in MY room overnight. It was a literal wrestling match/fistfight to get hold of the devices, and I was told I am a “fucking dumbass cunt” for doing it. Language NOT learned at home.! I pay for it, and now I have to monitor it or fight every night? I am considering cutting it out completely.

  • if your a mom being mean to your kids beacause they have kik u should say sorry and give the phone back or what ever divice it is u need to tell them sorry and give their devices back

  • I do believe in being safe on the internet, but kik is how I contact with my friends, if anybody I dont know texts me I block them, you should tell your kids the right thing to do and trust them, its a life leason for them to learn

  • Hey all these comments I’m a kid with a kik and a smartphone and this is only because I’m a trustworthy kid so all these people who commented all this negative stuff about kids being too young well shut up because you are just calling all these parents who know about it bad parents/people

  • Ok, only one question… is there a way to capture kik messages?

    if crazys are out there we need to monitor it somehow!

    • Yes, the messages can be captured, unless the connection is encrypted. Most services allow for both. Kik now has an option for encryption. If your kid is savvy enough to enable the encrypted connection option then you’re out of luck, you’ll only capture random noise. You can thank Edward Snowden.

  • You have just posted an entire novel in the frigging comments section. Remember that internet comments should be brief, and not the diarrhea of War And Peace.

  • I am sick that this KIK messaging is being promoted! This free message system is just a additional way for sick pataphils get to our kids, stalkers that can not be found without a trace! My daughter was approached by a man sent the most innapproprite picture you could send to a teen girl. This app is not protected or monitored in any way. Yes its free but with a big price. And such a great free app, no telephone number to contact them. I have sent repeated emails no response, our local law enforcement has also sent emails. I have also contacted apple to request these instant messaging apps with no connection stop. We need to stop talking behind text messaging and talk face to face. Stalking, harrassment, bullying another avenue for sex offenders would be taken away!

    • OMG! I could not agree more! The same goes for Instagram. The garbage that is allowed on Instagram is appalling. Sex and drugs run rampant and there is absolutely no way to contact Instagram. I have reported pics but it does not make a difference. Even if pics are taken down, or the person’s account is taken down, they just wind up on again, with a new name. I am tired of people saying that parents need to monitor their child’s activity, etc. when Apple, etc. make it impossible for us to do so!

    • Kik is just like texting remember that. They could be texted anything, and you might not know it. And texting their is no monitoring. Also I would like to point out that you are posting a comment out to the public that other people can see so I wouldn’t insult social media becuase they are not that different.

      • There actually are ways to know what kids text I use teen safe it cost a monthly fee but I know what my daughter text to people on her phone and no before you ask I made it clear to her that I was doing this so she can’t act surprised if I take her phone if she does something she should not

    • Maybe you need to start being a REAL parent and stop blaming society and the creators of this great app to raise your child. That is your job. When you have kids, they should be taught right, so that if anyone contacted them sexually, all they would have to do is block them. Welcome to the real world. You need to wake up and understand that kids are not as innocent as you think they are. for all you know your daughter could be on there sexting and sending nude pics of herself. Stop thinking she is an little innocent angle who is only interested in cartoons and toys. What amazes me us you mothers who come on the internet talking about sex offenders when you sit there letting your little girls plaster boys posters all over their wall like that stupid justin beiber, and let them wear their t-shirts and talk about how hot they are, but then you have a problem with a guy coming on to them. You make no sense. All that celebrity worship is damaging them more than some little app. Wake the hell up chick!

      Also, maybe you should stop letting your kids conform and do what the rest of the kids are doing. No one is forcing them to go online and chat are they? Learn how to be a real parent.

      • SHE?!?!?!
        How boys girl R not the only people..ik what u mean though so sorry just wanted to state that..but u know some girls don’t go around just doing PLZ stop judging girls on a couple of girls or wherever it is u got the idea thanks!

    • Really…? I mean come on going through all that trouble to get some pervert? You`re dumb. If you`re that upset about it talk to your daughter and ask her to delete it if she wants. Don’t force her but if she`s as upset as you are then just have her delete it. Obviously any app with messaging can be bad. I have gotten messages and really bad pictures on Kik as well. Wanna know what I do. I delete and block the person. Tell you`re daughter how to delete and block or just delete the app because no matter what you do in life there’s gonna be a pervert. You can`t shut down everything to make it suitable. Gross perverts will always be around. Deal with it or gtfo

    • Alright, seriously? Where do I even begin? This is the 21st century, nudes are flying out and about EVERYWHERE on the Internet. You’re going to see a couple naked people every once in a while on the Internet, you are SO overreacting. There is a way to trace it, called IP address; your police department is just incompetent. You need to teach your child what you think is right and wrong and how you’d deal with it. “Contacted Apple to take down chat apps.” Are you a fucking moron? The way parents like you act and think is just ridiculous and reminiscent of the 2nd century.

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