Your Kid’s on Kik, Now What?


kick kik

Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Vine.

Whew! I don’t know about you, but the number of social media apps kids use is beginning to overwhelm me. Just when I learn how to protect kids from one app, a new one pops up.

But if we want to keep our kids safe online, we need to learn to stay ahead of the game. And that means being informed and aware of what our kids are using. Because children shouldn’t ultimately be responsible for guarding their hearts and minds in the social media world, that is OUR job. {Tweet This}

So today, let’s talk through the latest app craze: Kik. Kik is a free texting app that kids are downloading left and right. But before you let your child hop on the bandwagon, consider 3 reasons why you may want to kick Kik to the curb versus 3 advantages to Kik.

1. Kik Allows Strangers to Text Your Kids

Instead of using phone numbers or emails, Kik users create usernames. But unfortunately, kids often publicize their username on their Instagrams and Facebooks—places anyone can see and then track down. But even if your child doesn’t  advertise their username, Kik accounts can still be sent spam messages or inappropriate messages from strangers. And the worst part, kids can’t filter what texts they receive. In other words, they may be sent an inappropriate text or nude photo without even accepting that person’s friend request!

Take Away: There is a very high stranger danger element in Kik that’s not present in traditional texting. If your child does not have good, cautious, boundary skills, they should not have Kik.

2. Kik Allows the Possibility of Sexting

As parents, the last thing we want is to assume the worst in our kids. But sexting (sending inappropriate, sexual texts, or images) is a growing issue among kids and teens. And unfortunately, texting apps like Kik create all too easy opportunities for sexting—with friends or strangers.

Take Away: Currently, you cannot monitor Kik. So whether your child would engage in sexting or not, you cannot monitor what other users might do.

3. Kik Allows Access to Unrated Content

Another feature of the Kik app is that it allows users to access ad pop-ups. In other words, your kids will be able to click on links that can lead them to inappropriate videos, apps, and more. This is a HUGE temptation. One solution: Change the app rating restriction on your child’s device settings. This will prevent them from being able to download certain apps like Kik (which is currently rated 17+).

Take Away: If you cannot control Kik like you would monitor and control your computer and television, you probably should not allow Kik.

On the flip side, we should look at some of the so-called advantages to using Kik.

4. Kik is FREE

Since Kik is centered around usernames rather than phone numbers, there is no fee for messaging. It’s also fast and has no character or message limitations. This means teens are able to easily contact their taxi service anytime and anywhere (a/k/a you, Mom!).

5. Kik Creates Community

Between school work, sports, and extracurriculars, intentional community is becoming less and less possible. I know several teens who have such full schedules that friendships are beginning to take a backseat. But as the number one communication app for tweens and teens, Kik provides a practical outlet for teens to foster community. Quick texting conversations is an easy way for kids to communicate in the midst of packed schedules.

6. Kik Creates an Opportunity to Establish Boundaries

One of my coworkers recently shared with me how Kik has been a great opportunity to talk with his teens about boundaries. Downloading the app was the perfect chance for him to discuss his expectations for their language, their friendships, and their faith. So if you decide to give your kids the ok on Kik, be sure to pursue a healthy conversation with them to establish boundaries.

Our Social Media Contract for Kids should be included in your conversation.

So look over these 5 Easy Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe Online today and apply the principles to all of your child’s social media use.

Let’s Talk: What are you doing to safeguard your children from the dangers of technology?

Comments


  • Adrian

    Good to know. Another app in need to be knowledge about. My daughter’s still too young for phones but when she is I’ll be ready to guide her.

  • Dani

    A friend’s daughter (age 15) had Kik without her parents knowledge. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after their daughter attempted suicide that the parents discovered the app and its contents. They discovered that their daughter had been bullied to great lengths. She was told she was fat (she is not), ugly (again not), sent videos on how to cut herself (which she began to do), etc. I point out that she is neither overweight nor “ugly” because it doesn’t matter if what the bullies are saying is true, the words still hurt and affect you. To make matters worse my friends could figure out who was harassing their daughter on Kik because of the username. In addition, when they spoke with the professionals who were treating their daughter they discovered that there are apps that people can hide behind other apps. So even if you are a parent who monitors your child’s phone, they could have an app that you don’t know is there!!! For example, the psychologist that spoke with my friend said that if you open the calculator app and type 666 or 999 another app will pop up! How are we supposed to protect our kids against what we don’t know is there?!