Kik is just one another app among the numerous apps for smart phones for private chatting, group chatting, sending and sharing pictures.
Not just that it comes with added extra features of playing games, creating memes and listening music and internal apps with browser.
With all these fancies, it became popular with the teens. And, it has earned registered users of about 300 million in number with 40% of teens in the US prefer using Kik.
But, it is now in the light of dishonor, as it has become an easy and notorious platform for sexual exploitation of children and teens.
Kik messenger is now highly being questioned and criticized for its safety for children and teenagers from sex predators.
How Kik has become unsafe?
Kik messenger is in simple terms and by its purpose is a chatting app with added social features. And it is especially designed for the teenagers with the specified age limit being 12 years and above.
The important feature of Kik messenger that makes it both famous and notorious is its anonymity.
All one have to do is to download the app (Android and Ios) in your phone and create an account using a username and password, entirely all by your choice and start searching for people you know and chat with them.
The username can be anything of your choice. The Kik messenger does not need any other verification by mail and it does not use your mobile number.
So, in Kik messenger, you can be anyone you want, that is, you can show yourself as anyone. The information provided on the app is not verified.
Sexual offenders make use of the power of this anonymity and exploit children and manage to escape from the law.
Kik messenger has been reported many a times for frequently receiving explicit sexual messages and images from anonymous users.
One facility in Kik messenger is that you can search people by age and it also has two internal apps Flirt that promotes flirting and Match&Catch, which is much like Tinder that potentially increases the maltreatment.
Reports have stated that within an hour of joining Kik messenger, users, especially girls have received messages containing verbal inducement for sex desire and pictures showing both male and female private organs.
One more usual problem with Kik is that the same intruder can have any number of anonymous accounts and send messages any number of times.
Kik messenger has became a serious concern for the Law Enforcement officials after it got involved in kidnapping and murdering of a 13 year old girl in the US by a boy whom she was chatting with in Kik messenger.
Also, a 25 year old man from Louisiana was arrested for sexually inducing 45 girls including minor girls. But that is not all.
The concern has further increased since with the advantage of anonymity, catching the offender is complex and thorny.
What has been Kik’s response?
Kik messenger team has been trying its best to ensure safety and include encryption. However, it is not ensured that the chats are kept private always.
Also they have used PhotoDNA to detect abusive images sent over.
This co-operates with the Law enforcement officials by providing information to stop all the mess. But still it is not potentially safe.
Kik messenger is not intended for sexual abuse but very sadly has become a platform of sex offenders to target on the teenagers.
It is not considered safe for children and teens, as of now.
What should one do about it being a parent?
As a parent, you have a noble part of keeping your children out of Kik. It is because, apart from the notorious messages, Kik has designed features for teens.
So once they get used to it, it is hard to leave the room.
Recommend your children alternative apps, especially one like Facebook. It is not that they are entirely safe but provide much safer environment than Kik.
Talk with them and get to know their friends.
Just like asking about their day in school, ask them about their activities in social media. Talk about their posts and online friends they have made.
But do not stress much. Handle them easily.
The best idea is to log out of Kik and to deactivate your account. And that will ensure the at most safety and freedom from potentially bad intended messages.