Police Warn Kik Is No Place for Young Kids…
Teenagers love Kik Messenger for its fun options, like a built-in meme-maker and the ability to add photos and video to chat. Parents, on the other hand, don’t (or shouldn’t) want their young kids messing with the app. Several news stories this year have linked Kik to online predators and a deluge of spammed pornography.
In Recent News…
Queensland, Australia – July 2014
- A 20-year-old Brisbane man was arrested for inappropriate contact with a teen in North Carolina. He allegedly coerced the girl via Kik to take indecent images of herself.
Georgia, USA – June 2014
- Police warn Kik Messenger, the social media app, is risky for young children after an adult male staying in a hotel allegedly used Kik to contact a 12-year-old girl, also a hotel guest. He molested the child in the facility’s stairwell.
Halifax, Canada – April 2014
- Numerous sources report SpamBots flooding Kik Messenger with porn-spam. Canadian users, including many minors, were shocked to receive porn-filled spam to their accounts. One adult user claims to have received sexually-explicit spam despite having enabled the app’s protective features (Block User and Ignore New User).
Police and Cybersafety Experts Warn Parents
Despite the 17+ age recommendation in the App Store (and the service’s own terms and conditions stating users should be 18 or 13 with adult consent), kids have the Kik app on their devices without parental knowledge. Kik offers little safety or privacy protection for young users, but it is not alone in this lack: Police also cite Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter—potentially any site that offers chat, photo, and video services.
Australian cybersafety expert Susan McLean told the Courier Mail that she was “appalled” to learn 25 year 2 and 3 students at one Queensland school had Kik Messenger service on their devices. She reported a shocking 75 to 80 percent of students in years 5 – 7 at a school in Townsville used age-restricted apps and site.
4 Tips for Parents:
- Be the parent: say NO! to apps and sites that your child is too young to use.
- Enable the App Rating Restrictions your children’s devices. If you set the age high enough, your children should be blocked from adding inappropriate apps.
- Check the devices regularly for inappropriate apps. Also spot-check chat logs, camera rolls, and browser histories. If the history has been cleared, it’s probable that you child is trying to hide something. Time for a talk! (Don’t forget the possibility of kids’ concealing dodgy content in sneaky hiding apps.)
- Remind your children not to share pictures of themselves with people they don’t know. Help them understand that they don’t know where their photos will end up, or how they will be used, or who will use them.
- If you decide to let your child use Kik Messenger, go to their Help Centre and check out Tips for Parents. At the end of the day, the service itself isn’t seedy or dangerous—how people use it is.
CC Image Credit: Proceed with Caution by State Farm