Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Vine.
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.
Because children shouldn’t ultimately be responsible for guarding their hearts and minds in the social media world, that is OUR job.
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?