Young teen putting makeup on.

Alive and Kicking: What Parents of Teens Should Know about Kik Messenger

by Screen Time Team on 09/12/2020

Since we wrote our Quick Parental Guide to Kik, the messaging platform has only gotten more popular.  In light of that, we’re going to talk in more detail about the conversations parents could have about Kik and how parental control software can be used.

Kik Messaging: The Basics

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Users can send text, photos, sketches, videos, weblinks, and use video chat and text message groups
  • Built to be anonymous: does not ask for a phone number and doesn’t store messages outside the app. This makes tracking online predators and inappropriate behavior difficult to track.
  • Has in-app purchases
  • Terms of service ban any user under 13, but kids can easily lie about their age
  • Lacks robust safety tools to protect against predators, hackers, and general online misbehavior

Securing Kik With Software

Whether you’re considering allowing Kik or want to block it entirely, operating system controls, in-app controls, and parental control software are a must for any teen’s phone using Kik.

Operating System Level: Disable in-app purchases, block inappropriate web content, and block access to items such as contacts, location, photos, and so on.

In-app Controls: Kik allows you to both mute inbound messages from people your teen doesn’t know and disable private messaging within groups. Both of these features can be enabled. In addition, you should know the password to access your child’s account to see what people are sending them.

Parental Control Software: On this level, you can block the downloading of Kik, and you may want to consider doing that on other devices your teens can access, limiting use to one device. You can also set a strict schedule for when Kik is allowed and block other features you may prefer teens not to use without your permission.

Teen sitting on the floor looking at her phone.

Safety on Kik

Teens may be interested in Kik for a few reasons, and it may even appeal to parents, especially if they’re struggling to trust larger social networks like Facebook and Instagram. That said, it’s not a good idea to allow teens onto any social platform without a discussion of how to spot risks. 

Parents should also be aware that, according to at least one review, Kik “hides” messages in a way designed to make it difficult for parents to find them.

Online Grooming: Sexual predators will be a risk on any social media service, but Kik’s lack of robust registration features and documentation should be of particular concern for parents, as it allows strangers to contact your teens. Teens should know how to recognize online grooming and to come to you if somebody says or shares something upsetting to them.

Adult Behavior: The sad truth is most adults may not realize a child is on the network and will openly discuss awkward topics, use profanity, and otherwise share information that upsets teens. And teens may enter adult spaces without realizing it.

Fraud: Financial crimes are common on social networks, and Kik collects less evidence than most. Many criminals will manipulate teens to get passwords, credit card numbers, and other information, and malware and other risky apps are commonplace. Teens should learn the basics of spotting fraud and general self-protection, like not clicking links sent by strangers.

Cyberbullying:  Teens should know how to quickly mute, report, and document attempts at cyberbullying. They should also know to come to you to discuss these problems.

Interacting online is always going to be fraught with a degree of risk. Parental control software can help mitigate that risk. To learn more, try it for free!

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