It is no doubt that a majority of parents are still concerned about their kids’ presence on internet, content they read, the services they avail, and the people they converse to. With arrival of instant messaging apps, and specially kik messenger for teens the concern has only got deeper. Though internet is now almost 2 decades old and it has become an integral part of our lifestyle but the thought of kids accessing internet still haunts many parents. There was a time when a fixed computer system, desktop, was the only computer in the family and it was readily accessible to all of the family members. Now, we have come to the point where everyone has at least a mobile device, either a smartphone or a tablet. Laptops are fairly common to even speak in this context. Now that kids as young as 10 have their own mobile phones, parents are into the belief that they can no longer monitor what their kid is up to on internet. They can no longer access the device and detect the activities followed up on web.
The concern is highly aggravated by the fact that cyber crime has increased manifold as well and every day we hear unpleasant stories of crime and harassment that start from irresponsible use of internet and telephony. In this article, we will focus on Kik Messenger app and how parents can check if their kid is using the app secretly. What drove us to write this article is that of all the Kik users, 70% are in the age group of 14-24 and there are around 250 million Kik users worldwide. So naturally, parents of these kids must be worried how their wards are using the app and for what purpose. This article deals with Kik Messenger app and not parenting since the latter subject is too broad to discuss and comprehend. The highlights of this article will be to analyze if Kik is safe, what are the perils of using Kik messenger irresponsibly, and if your kid has a secret Kik account. Take this article as a directive and advisory rather that a set of commandments to ensure you and your kid have a happy Kik experience.
Getting To Know Kik messenger for teens & Account Creation For Minors
Kik was developed by Kik Interactive in 2009 to enable its users to exchange messages, photos, videos, and graphics via internet. It comes in the category of other instant online messaging apps but it is not the same. Kik users have a variety of content to exchange which also includes GIFs and stickers. The app consumes cellular data or Wi-Fi as the case may be. Unlike SMS, there is no restriction on the count of messages. Talking of age restriction, the minimum age to use this popular messaging app is 13 years. To use the app, user has to download it from the app store and create an account on it. While creating the account, age is required to fill in the column apart from name and email address.
If a kid is between 13 to 18 years of age, he will be required to get permission from one of the parents or legal guardian. So in theory, if your kid falls under the category of 13-18 years old, he will have to take your permission to proceed with registration and eventually use kik messenger for teens. If your kid is under 13 years of age, he will not be able to make an account at all. To conclude, we can say that your kid will not be able to use Kik without your permission or knowledge. However, talking in real terms, if your kid is smart enough to lie about age, he can proceed without any hassles at all. So for example if a kid of age 12 wishes to use Kik secretly without your permission, he can fill wrong age in the column and get away with it.
Is Kik Suitable and Safe For Kids?
Like any other app or social media platform, Kik is also used by people with malicious intentions. They may not always harass other people or get into more personal details, but surely they can post or publish content unsuitable for minors. To add to the worry is fake profiles and impersonators which blatantly copy identities. Many times sexual content floats around on Kik; some profiles are even created around exchange of sexual graphic content and pornography. However this is not exclusive to kik messenger for teens and it should not be seen as a reason to not use Kik. These profiles and similar content is present on even Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr. Owing to the feature of anonymity, the app is highly popular for ‘sexting’ and flirting.
For the uninitiated, ‘sexting’ refers to exchange of sexually explicit or suggestive messages, photos, videos, stickers, and GIFs. This type of content can be either be taken or downloaded from web or the users can generate it themselves. This certainly raises eyebrows of many parents and is often cited a reason for concern regarding presence on Kik app. Another grave matter is presence of stalkers and predators. These users most often create fake IDs and befriend unsuspecting teens, only to stalk and exploit them. They will try to extract highly personal and sensitive information such as name, address, mobile number, email ID, workplace, school, and bank details. Giving them these details makes your child susceptible to harm.
Detecting Presence Of Your Child On Kik
Now if you have a kid below 18 years of age and you suspect if he has a Kik account of which you are unaware, you must proceed with investigation. If your kid is under 13 and has not lied about his age, he will for sure not have a Kik account and if the kid lies in the age group of 13-18, he would have asked your permission to set up Kik account. So in either cases, you can be aware that if your child is using Kik or not. If your child has a Kik account and he is under 13, get alert because he has lied about his age in the registration process. So quite naturally, you must be concerned. Some of the ways in which you can detect if your child has a Kik account are as follows:
Checking Email ID
You can check the email ID of your child and see if he has received a confirmation message or just any message from Kik. You can easily type ‘Kik’ in the search box of the email ID to filter all the mails with mention of Kik. On successful registration, Kik sends a confirmation message to the provided email address. This step is to ensure real identity of the user and double check if the email address provided by him belongs to the same person who is creating an account. If there is a mail from Kik, it means that your child has registered and created an account on the app. It is one of the easiest ways to detect presence of your kid on Kik. If your child is under 18 and wants to set up an email address, you must do it for them and provide your mobile number for authentication.
Checking Smartphone or Tablet
Another method is to check your child’s smartphone or tablet to see if they have Kik installed. You can also see if they installed Kik by checking the app download history in the store. This in particular will help if your child has hidden the app using another app. Another method to detect the downloaded but hidden app is to access the app manager in phone. It will list all the apps that are currently in the phone, including hidden ones. So if your child has downloaded any app other than Kik, which is unsuitable, you will come to know about it. It is advised to set age restrictions on the phone so that you are assured that the apps being downloaded to your child’s phone are suitable for his age group.
Asking By Yourself
All the above stated ways are technical and require special permissions and access. You can choose the obvious and ask your child himself. If he agrees to have a Kik account, you can talk to him in length about the ways Kik is misused by some people and how many end up in harassment on not following the safety guidelines. It is important that you educate him about boons and banes of using Kik and other social media apps and websites. For better understanding and communication, we suggest that you know how Kik works and what kind of users is active on it.
My Child Has A Kik Account, What To Do?
So you have discovered that your child is using Kik without your consent, now it is up to you if you want to get his account cancelled or let him use it. If age of the child is below 13 years, it is suggested that you ask him to deactivate his account. The process of account deactivation is simple and hardly takes 2 minutes. You can also deactivate the account yourself if you have ready access to his email ID that was used to register and create an account on the app. Without email ID access, deactivation of account is possible but involves contacting Kik Messenger over email ID. This step needs username of the Kik user, which you can either lookup into the app itself or ask your child. Steps to deactivate the account if you have access to email ID are:
- Open the Kik messenger app and log in to the account.
- Tap on the settings icon and select your account.
- Tap on the reset icon to deactivate the account.
- Type the email address used to register on Kik.
- A deactivation confirmation mail will be sent now.
- Open the mail sent by Kik and click the link therein.
- kik messenger for teens is now completely deactivated for use.
Contacting Kik Messenger for Deactivation
If you have strong suspect that your child is using Kik and you are not able to access his email ID and mobile device, you can contact Kik Messenger directly for deactivation of his account. For this you will have to know Kik username of your child which you can check from his device or directly ask him. To find out Kik username from the mobile device, follow these steps:
Go to Kik app installed in the phone or tablet. à From the main chat list, tap on the icon that resembles a cog located at the top area of the screen. à Settings screen will display next. à Now, you will be able to see username under the profile picture, written in gray font. à Do not confuse it with display name which shall be written in black font and located right above the username.
Now that you have your child’s username, you have to email kik messenger for teens on ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ asking them to deactivate the account. Subject line of the mail shall be ‘parent enquiry’. In the mail you should put your child’s username and age. Kik will promptly deactivate account of your child and send you a confirmation. Better than all is communicating with your child and make him aware of precautions to be followed while using social media, not just Kik.