Ever heard of Kik Messenger or simpy, “Kik”?
If you’re a teenager, you probably do. But seeing as the audience of this blog tends to be parents of those teenagers, the answer is probably no. So as always, I am here to get you up to speed with this app which is quite popular with kids today, so that you can be well informed.
What is Kik?
On the surface, Kik is not much different to any other instant messaging service, like WhatsApp or Skype. For starters, it is available for free on most operating systems and smartphones. So kids don’t have to pay for a text they send or buy data plans. For the other it is, well, instant so the instant gratification need of the generation are satisfied by it. Other than that, it makes media embedding within text messages really easy. Kids can share pictures amongst themselves, share memes, selfies or anything else.
Is it Really that Popular?
Kik is definitely a fast growing messenger service. As of 2016, it has 247 million users compared to just 75 users in 2012. Is there a reason Kik is growing so fast?
There certainly is the aspect of anonymity that we’ve covered on this blog on a few occasions. On Kik, you don’t have to register with your own name. You choose any username of your liking in the same way you choose any twitter handle you like. This invites a lot of random chatting opportunities to kids. Because they are hidden behind a created username—not their actual name—their interaction is not confined by their contact list.
What’s There to Worry About?
That’s exactly where the cause to worry exists. Your kids are not confined on Kik by their real life social circle or the people on their contact list that they speak to everyday. On Kik, with an artificial username to hide behind, they can be whoever they want to be and talk to whoever they want. So they speak to the people of the internet—the good and the bad. More often than not, Kik has become synonymous with sexting. We’re not exaggerating… the understanding that Kik means sexting has been the butt of many jokes in popular culture. Simply asking someone “Kik?” is taken to be an act of flirtation, or “Kik me” is an invitation that shows your interest in the partner on the other side of the computer screen.
Because of this anonymity, Kik has been used by many a predators and online solicitation of minors. Anonymity gives them the fearlessness, the escape from accountability so they feel like they can steer the conversation in any direction they feel, no matter how reckless it is.
This infographic from Smarter Parenting sums it all up:
So, yes, parents do need to know why Kik exists because of what it has come to stand for. In the next blog, we’re going to talk about what parents can do to remedy this problem and how they can help their kids stay away from predators or malicious strangers.