Gaggle Speaks Blog

Kik App Requires Transparency and Clear Monitoring by Adults

 

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Kik is a messaging application on iOS and Android that allows users to connect, chat and share media with friends or strangers. The app works with a user account, but does not require any real verification.

Kids love this app due to its ease of use and platform-agnostic availability, but the same features that entice some users to join could prove dangerous for others. Features like easy sign-up, simple access to thousands of chat room users and the ability to share videos and photos can be good or bad depending on the user’s intentions.

Kik offers chat rooms that allow users to connect with others with shared interests. These rooms range from topics such as comic books and sports to dating and sexual themes.

Pros

  • Free
  • Frequently-updated with attention from developers
  • Feature-rich app with many integrations and add-ons
  • Users can communicate using any Android or iOS device with or without a data plan
  • Messages do not count as text messages
  • Easy to report spam and abuse

Cons

  • No age verification
  • In-app downloads contain users with a variety of topics, such as dating, sexting, nudity and photo sharing
  • The only information needed to connect is a username
  • Identified as child predator “go-to” by the FBI
  • High volume traffic in chat rooms revolving around sexual activity

Tips for educators

  • If used with transparency and clear monitoring by adults, Kik could be a useful tool for students to communicate without using text messages or email.
  • Ensure students are aware that, like much of the Internet, there are open channels to dangerous places that should be avoided.
  • There are other similar applications to Kik with less of an open field for risky behavior.
  • Encourage students to avoid communication with someone who does not know them personally and does not have a profile with identifying information.

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Wrap Up

There is no question that Kik is one of the leaders in the race for mobile communication platform supremacy, but popularity does not go hand-in-hand with safety. During meetings between law enforcement and Gaggle’s Safety Representative’s, Kik is regularly brought up as the app most used by child predators.

An app known for something like child exploitation might seem like it should be avoided at all costs, but like numerous apps mentioned in our Social Network Spotlight, with proper monitoring by an informed educator or guardian, Kik is usable. There is a significant amount of chat applications in both the iOS and Android app stores, so although Kik isn’t an absolute “no,” other options should be considered before using Kik if constant monitoring is now possible.


socialapps-70Gaggle’s Safety Representatives continue to discover websites and apps that pose potential risks to students. Here’s a popular and ever-growing list of “Top Social Networks & Apps Your Kids Use.”


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Categories: Student Safety

Alex Beck Gaggle Safety Management Supervisor

Alex Beck is a regular contributor to the Gaggle Speaks Blog and on Twitter @Gaggle_K12. He tells the incredible stories of how Gaggle Safety Management helps save lives, intervenes in dangerous situations, and keeps districts informed to questionable communications. Alex also has experience in the music business and ecommerce maintaining a self-started music apparel company.

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