Teens love to stay social, and these days most of their socializing is done online. Kik is an internet messaging platform that’s popular with teens and one that parents should be aware of in order to keep their children safe online. We’ve gathered all of the information that you need to know about the messaging service and how to teach your kid about the safe use of Kik.

Teenagers are very social beings and thanks to the internet, there are now hundreds of ways for them to connect with their friends online that we never had growing up. Although these apps and platforms might seem confusing to us, it’s imperative that we dig a little deeper to understand exactly what our kids are doing online and who they might be speaking to.

Kik is a messenger service that has millions of users with a largely teen demographic, and their most popular feature is the chat function. If your child has expressed an interest in getting a Kik account or is already using the app, then you should make it a priority to educate yourself about exactly what’s on offer.

As parents, we can’t be watching every single thing our kids do (especially when they’re teenagers!) but the best we can do is to stay in the know. Understanding a little more about Kik, what functions it has, and what safety risks there might be means that you can be a responsible parent while still giving your child some freedom to make the right decisions for themselves.

What Is Kik?

Kik is a mobile application used for messaging but is a cross-platform service as well. The instant messaging service allows people to create an account without having to enter their cell phone numbers which is how it differs slightly to other apps like Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.

When you’re signed up to Kik and have contacts, you can contact these people with unlimited messaging. For many teens, it’s a popular alternative to sending SMS and because it’s completely free there are no charges other than data that might be used.

With the main feature of Kik being its instant messaging service, there are many things to do within the chat function that make it appealing to the younger crowd. Emojis and GIFs can be sent, you can start a video call, or send through images and documents while you’re speaking to friends.

In 2016, there were 300 million registered users on the social platform and 8 million active users per month. Kik users in the US use the app quite a lot, with a 2017 report finding that there were 186 monthly usage sessions which equates to about five times a day. If this sounds familiar and your teen is using the social app quite a bit, then you’ll definitely want to know more.

The Features Offered By Kik

What makes Kik such a popular platform for young people is the variety of features it offers. Compared to other communication apps that only offer one or two things, Kik has a whole range of functions for people to enjoy.

  • Instant Messaging
what is kik

Chatting with friends and family can be done through Kik, with other features like live typing icons and read receipts that can show you when someone’s seen your message.

  • Notifications
what is kik

Notifications can be sent even when the app isn’t in use, and it will be able to tell you when your message was sent or when you received any new ones.

  • Bot Shop
Bot shop

Kik has chat bots available that can carry on a conversation as if they were a human. They keep you entertained with quizzes, fashion tips, and news updates as well.

  • Code scanning
Code scanning

When you sign up for Kik you’re given a Kik code which is kind of like a barcode. Inviting friends and sharing access to your camera is all done through this code.

  • Multimedia message sending
Multimedia message sending

There are many other things you can send besides just text in chat. Kik allows you to send images, videos, GIFs, sketches, emojis, and more.

  • Group chat
Group chat

Kik has chat bots available that can carry on a conversation as if they were a human. They keep you entertained with quizzes, fashion tips, and news updates as well.

  • Video chat
Video chat

Giving Kik permission to access your camera means you’ll be able to have live video chats with friends just as you would on Skype or FaceTime.

Anonymity on Kik

One of the key differences between Kik and the other mobile app platforms is that a teen can be completely anonymous when using it. All you need to sign up is an email address so there’s no need to put in a phone number or even a real name.

While it might be considered a positive that your child doesn’t have to give out their information, there are also some hazards with this. Firstly, the users that they’re talking to can also be anonymous so there’s no way to really tell if they’re a friend of theirs or not.

The other concern is one that you should voice to your teen regarding their behavior online. Just because they might feel as though

They’re completely anonymous and private while using Kik, everything that they say, send, and share on the platform will remain and there’s a good chance it could still be linked to them. Therefore, the anonymity is something to be cautious of. 

Setting Up Your Account and Choosing A Username and Profile Picture

Kik can be installed on the app store of your teen’s cellphone, whether it’s the Google Play store or iTunes. Upon installing the program, your teen will be asked to insert some information that will help to create their account, including email address and birthdate, and it’s best for parents to supervise this. The minimum age for Kik is 13 years old, and this will be verified upon setup when they enter their birth details.

Kik gives their users a unique profile username and allows them to choose a photo to display as well. While this might sound harmless, it’s best to sit with your child during the initial setup stage so that you can make sure they’re choosing safe and responsible usernames and pictures.

  • Keep their real name private and only ever use their first name in their profile, with no mention of their surname.
  • The profile picture should be respectful, non-suggestive, and preferably not of their face.
  • Never reveal any details of where you live, go to school, or where you currently are when setting up a profile.
  • How to Connect to Others on Kik

    Because Kik doesn’t require a phone number to set up, you won’t be able to automatically add contacts from your phone like you would with other apps unless they have added their phone number manually.  To allow Kik to search through your phone contacts requires your permission, so it depends on who your teen has on their phone.

    To add friends on Kik, your teen will need to have their email address or username handy so that they can add them. Alternatively, you might have a Kik code that can be scanned that will connect you with a specific user.

    What Happens on A Kik Chat

    Some parents have never witnessed an online chat platform like this, so don’t know what to expect. A Kik chat begins with either your teen initiating a conversation or someone requesting one with them.

    When your teen wants to start the chat they find their friend and can select from a number of chat options available, including video chat and instant messaging. A notification will be received if someone has requested a chat with them, but it’s important that they never have a conversation with someone they don’t know in real life.

    During the chat, your teen will likely do a lot of typing back and forward, and may send other funny GIFs or images as they’re talking. Sometimes a video chat will be started or a larger group chat session will be started, and usually, these are all for the purpose of fun.

    Dealing With Abuse on Kik

    An unfortunate part of being online for both adults and teens is having to deal with unwanted attention and harassment from others. Thankfully, Kik has some good measures in place that means your teen is able to report any issues they’re having with others.

    Kik allows you to block anyone who is sending offensive or inappropriate messages, videos or images, or block someone who you no longer want to speak to. This won’t be made visible to the other party as it will just appear as if you’re offline, but they will no longer be able to contact you.

    To take things further and report a user for more serious or harassing behavior, Kik has a report function that allows you to notify Kik of any user that violates their Community Standards. A moderator from Kik will then review the chat log in question and take action against the user, possibly deleting their account if they find them to be guilty of harassment or inappropriate behavior.

    The Risks of Your Child Using Kik

    As with any online form of communication, there are certain risks you need to be aware of when letting your teen use these apps. One of the biggest cases in the news involved a 13-year-old girl who used Kik to meet a college student and was then allegedly murdered, which just highlights why it’s essential to keep a close eye on your kids.

    Because there is an anonymity factor with Kik, it’s hard to know exactly who your child is talking to. There’s no way to link a phone number or full name with a user so even if they appear as someone in their teens and perhaps even attending the same school, it can be near impossible to verify.

    Kik is sometimes known as a ‘hook up’ app which means people use it to find dates or meet romantic interests. This isn’t something that most parents would be happy about their children using so be sure to explain to your children that this is inappropriate behavior and that you will be keeping an eye on how they use the app.

    Keeping Your Teen Safe Online

    There are plenty of precautionary measures with can take when letting our kids go online, and especially when using apps like the Kik messaging service. Here are some things to keep in mind that might just protect your child when they’re online.

    • Keep an eye on their chat history and contact list to see who they’ve been talking to and what they’ve been saying.
    • Remind your child about the real dangers that exist online, and show them the recent news stories that might be involved with this app and others.
    • Explain the importance of never meeting up with anyone that they’ve met online, and to only use the app to speak to real life friends.
    • Use the app yourself and learn the features and functions so that you know exactly what they’re getting up to online.

    Keeping Your Teen Safe Online 

    There are plenty of precautionary measures with can take when letting our kids go online, and especially when using apps like the Kik messaging service. Here are some things to keep in mind that might just protect your child when they’re online.

    • Keep an eye on their chat history and contact list to see who they’ve been talking to and what they’ve been saying.
    • Remind your child about the real dangers that exist online, and show them the recent news stories that might be involved with this app and others.
    • Explain the importance of never meeting up with anyone that they’ve met online, and to only use the app to speak to real life friends.
    • Use the app yourself and learn the features and functions so that you know exactly what they’re getting up to online.

    Stay Educated to Keep Your Kid Safe

    Kik certainly has a lot to offer teens in terms of communicating with their friends, and preventing them from using such apps would be near impossible to do in this day and age. The best approach to take is educating yourself and your child about the potential risks that lurk online and then letting them use their judgment to make decisions.

    Online chat platforms like this will only continue to grow, so a little bit of education now will mean a whole lot to your child’s safety. As parents, it’s up to us to understand what our kids are doing on the internet and who they’re talking to, but also to allow them some freedom to use their better judgment as well.

     

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