Kik is a mobile messaging application that can be used on both android and iPhone. The popular app which is free to use is similar to Viber and WhatsApp but has some additional functions that differentiate it. For example, an internal browser, meaning users are encouraged to spend more time within the app.
The app has been in the news recently, if your child has a Kik account, caution should be taken.
1) What can you do on KiK?
The main functions of Kik are:
One to one chat (Including Anonymous Chatting)
Send messages, videos, pictures, etc.
Group chat (with up to 50 users)
Promoted Chats allow users to follow and chat with different brands in music, entertainment and more. Users will know a promoted account by the Green Star beside their profile.
2) What are the risks?
There is a diverse range of risks for this app, young users below the suggested age risk speaking with users they've never met, they also risk being contacted by those looking to groom young people online. There are strict rules and moderation on KiK but the app has such a large user base, people will slip through the net and then KiK are reliant on the reporting process to catch those up to no good.
3) What are the best ways to keep safe on KiK?
You need to be aware of the age of the person using the app. The buttons around blocking, privacy settings and reporting are below.
4) What else should I know about?
In addition KiK offers internal apps through its browser encouraging users to remain within the app itself. These internal apps include stickers apps, games, meme gen's, and dating style apps that allow users to chat with new contacts which may be of some concern to parents.
Two example apps are Match & Chat and Flirt! Match & Chat is similar to Tinder, matching users by ages, gender etc. What is worrying about Match & Chat is the ease with which a user can chat to others users of any age they want. For example users can select to chat to teens users.
The Flirt! App also available through the Kik browser gives users a list of new users within their age range to chat to. Again, users can easily pose to be someone they are not, give a different age on their Kik account etc. We would not recommend either of these apps for teens. If your child is on Kik, caution needs to be taken especially regarding the above apps.
KiK has a "Help Centre", within this is tips for parents which will give everything from the basics around KiK to "How do I report abuse?"
The app allows users to connect with people in their phone book/contact list who already have a Kik account. This option can also be turned off by going to settings > chat settings > and turning off address book matching. By turning off address book matching, your child can only talk to people who know their username.
BEWARE App Purchases
There are stickers available to purchase on the Kik app, however users must have a credit card associated to their Google Play or iTunes account in order to make a purchase.