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July 24, 2012Net Nanny for Android 2.0
Apr 11, 2016
My parents are in their 50’s. They have seven children- ages ranging from 11 to 33. When my older sisters and I were teenagers, it was a little easier for my parents to keep track of who our friends were and whom we were talking with. I remember I would go up to my room with the portable home phone to have a “private conversation” only to be interrupted by my mom picking up another phone in the house and asking whom I was talking to.
Things are a little different now. My two sisters that are still living at home are 11 and 15 years old. They both have personal iPhones; they are the primary target market for messenger app creators.
In a recent conversation with my mom, I asked her if she had ever heard of Kik. She had, but that was the extent of her knowledge about the popular app. What she didn’t know was that my 15-year-old sister had constantly used Kik. My sister explained to me that it was a great way to stay in touch with her friends, and easy to find them by their username. As time went on what she loved most about Kik became the very reason she had to stop using it because there were no boundaries to protect her from stranger danger. My 15-year-old sister started receiving messages from strangers and anyone and everyone were able to start chatting with her-even if they weren’t her friends. Kik does offer the ability to block strangers from chatting with her, but like most of her friends they rarely used the block feature.
Messenger apps such as Snapchat* and Whats App have become increasingly popular among teens. The biggest attraction to these apps is ability to make conversations private from parents and create different usernames.
Over 40% of US teens use Kik, and the majority of parents don’t know about it. Although there are some teens that recognize the dangers of the app, many don’t and there are consequences to these choices.
The app has an age requirement of 13+ (with a parent’s approval), however it’s not recommended for children under 17 due to reoccurring involvement in incidents of child exploitation. It has a reputation for attracting sexual predators because of the anonymity features and has weak parental controls.
So, is Kik safe for your kids? Probably not. Be aware of new messenger apps and talk with your teen about the potential dangers. Help them by educating yourself and using these apps yourself.
Want another way to keep your kids safe online? In addition to using the parental control software like Net Nanny, download our FREE digital family contract.