We write a lot about new apps on this blog because apps are hot in the very mobile teen world. Kids use apps to stay connected to the outside world and that’s where you as a parent need to be looking when it comes to threats to their personal safety.
This week we’re looking at Kik, a free mobile messenger app that allows kids to text friends who are also using the app. Teens like Kik because it allows them to do more than just type written messages. Kik makes it easy to add video and pictures to a text.
Basically, Kik is just fun and that’s what kids are looking for—fun, cool ways to ensure they stay in the peer conversation.
The potential threats to safety arise when kids begin to take their privacy casually and share their private Kik username on public social network like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pheed, or Tumblr. And, like all the other social networks, once someone knows your child’s username, anyone can send them a message.
So if you see the Kik icon on your kid’s phone (pictured on right), remind them your Family Game Plan when it comes to Internet use.
- Once your child opens the Kik app it stays on. This compromises privacy. Make sure your kids create a very unique password and change it now and then.
- Remind your kids not to post their Kik names to other networks (One quick look at Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and you may see #kikme requests from teens along with their usernames).
- Encourage your kids to create unique names for their accounts. It’s far too easy to contact in multiple social networks if their name is always the same.
- Kik also has an “Ignore New People” feature under Notifications on the app that give you one more safety step in reviewing new follower requests.
- Go over the importance of only communicating with friends and family on social networks. As repetitive as you might sound—remind them of predators and people looking for “open doors” into the lives of young people online.
- Remind them to block people who are cyber bullies, negative or people they do not know. They can do this in the account settings.
- Kik has an impressive community support forum that deals with safety issues. It’s worth your time to check it out.
The door to privacy is continually being compromised with the slew of new apps and social networks now available. Be sure your children and family remain “in the know” and protected.