Kik Messenger is one of the most popular instant messaging applications for teens. Why do they like it, and other similar apps like TextNow, so much? One, it is free. Two, you don’t need a phone plan to use it, just an email address to sign up. And three, it is a cross platform app. Kik has an app for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone.
I have always been wary of Kik because of the many cyberbullying issues I have investigated with students using Kik. A Kik account is tied to an email, not a phone number like iMessage. If you receive a threat from an iMessage account, it has a phone number or an iTunes account behind it. Kik can be created with a temporary throwaway email that is untraceable. I have told parents in my Cyber Safety Cop Workshop to be aware of these issues with Kik. I didn’t come out and say their child should not have Kik, but to weigh the risks and decide if it is appropriate. Recently, I have learned that Kik isn’t just a messaging app anymore. You can download apps inside of Kik. My opinion has completely changed based on this new information. Kik is not safe for anyone under 18-years-old.
See the images below. Once you log in to Kik, you will see a globe icon in the bottom right corner. If you tap on that, you will be taken to a kind of free app store. Here you can download apps like HeyHey, a kind of Instagram that has extremely inappropriate images. Many of which are invitations to pornography sites elsewhere. Or, you can load Talk to Strangers or Flirt. These apps will facilitate your child to have a Kik conversation with a complete stranger.
You may have allowed your child to use Kik to chat with their friends. They may not be using the new app feature. However, with this new feature, Kik has had to change their age rating from 13 to 17-year-old or older.
Review your child’s apps and make sure they are only using age appropriate applications.
"Clay Cranford has done it—provided a handbook to put us as both parents and educators one step ahead of our digital teens/ tweens. This book not only provides step by step visuals to help every adult set up the privacy settings on every device that is both in our house and on our teens at all times. Keeping our kids safe in a digital world is our job as parents. Thank you, Clay, for making a handbook to help us keep our kids safe."
—Amy Hemphill, Digital Literacy Educator
This book answers the number one question parents of digital kids have today, “How Can I Keep My Child Safe Online?” In addition to being visually appealing, the book provides actionable solutions, walking parents through parental controls on Macs, PC’s, online games, as well as on the social media apps that kids use most. It’s easy to read with visual guides that make digital parenting simple. This is surely the most useful book on this topic I’ve seen yet. Additionally, Cranford’s comprehensive guide on “Reporting Bullying and Abuse” at the end of the book is an important resource. “Parenting in a Digital World” is an indispensable guide that should live on the nightstand of every parent raising kids today.
?—Diana Graber, Co-Founder, Cyberwise.org and Founder, CyberCivics.com
Parenting in a Digital World is written by Clayton Cranford, the nation's leading law enforcement educator on social media and online safety for children and recipient of the 2015 National Bullying Prevention Award.
This easy step-by-step guide will show parents how to create a safe environment on the Internet, social networking apps, and on their children's favorite game consoles. Parenting in a Digital World will include:
- Step-by-step instructions for enabling all of the hidden settings in your computers, mobile devices, and game consoles to make them safe and secure.
- A list of the latest and most popular apps for teens: What they do, their problems, and whether they are safe for children.
- A guide to bringing sanity back to your child's digital world by showing parents how to successfully limit "screen time" in their homes.
- How to start a conversation about appropriate use of mobile devices and the Internet.
- A copy of the Cyber Safety Cop's Internet & Mobile Device Usage Contract.
- Steps to successfully dealing with a cyberbullying incident.
- Instructions how to block and report abuse on 83 different apps and online games.
- Safety settings on the latest operating systems and game consoles: Windows 8.1, Mac OSX, Apple mobile iOS, Android mobile OS, Xbox 360 & One, and Playstation 4.
Parenting in a Digital World will be offered in paperback and ebook.
Parenting will be released in the summer of 2015. Sign up below to be notified as soon as it is available.