The Kik Messenger app is hugely popular with teenagers in the United States and in many other countries and territories around the world. Is it little surprising then that some parents or guardians with minors under their care may worry about whether children should be using the popular instant messaging app. Is Kik really safe for kids?
In this article we will go into all the different age restrictions on the Kik Messenger app but, first we would like to give any parents reading this some pointers about the chatting app.
What Can A Kid Do on Kik Messenger?
The first thing parents and guardians should understand about the Kik Messenger app is what it is and what kids can get up to on it.
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”- James Baldwin
There is a rather worrying tendency now whereby parents and other adults either let children use their smart phone and mobile devices without any manner of supervision. In an even more extreme version of this practice, it is also growingly popular that minors have their own smart phones or mobile devices.
We do not say this is “worrying” because we are taken an over moralistic stance. It is up to parents and guardians to let their kids use apps and social media and to even have their own mobile devices. What we are trying to say here is that parents should be aware of the risks involved and always keep a close eye on their kids’ online activity. This is not about invading anybody’s privacy; it is about keeping your children safe and protected.
As long as you keep an eye on your kids’ online activity there will not be cause for alarm. The only problem is what this “keeping an eye” means. It is very simple, apart from obviously setting the appropriate age restrictions; you should do a few more things:
- Open your child an email account. They will need this to be able to download apps and register to use them. This, of course, includes the Kik Messenger app. You must always ensure that you have access to this email account so you can control what apps your child download and register to use. As we will see later in this article, having access to your kid’s email account is extremely important.
- Login to your kid’s email account often and check all the folders.
- Check the apps that you child has downloaded and check their activity. You should always have full login access to any apps a minor under your care uses.
These are some general guidelines but they all also apply to Kik Messenger perfectly well. So, as long as you have all of that clear, you will then need to know about what Kik is and what your child can do on it specifically.
To put it simply, the Kik Messenger app is an instant messaging app that allows its users to exchange text, video, and photo messages with one another. There are also other fun features designed to enhance their chats: stickers, GiFs, and Kik bots. There are no restrictions as the content of those messages (including pictures or videos), so a child using Kik Messenger without any supervision could easily be exposed to graphic content of an adult nature.
Who can chat with my kid? If you are asking yourself this question, you may be surprised to know that the answer is that anybody with a Kik Messenger account can start chatting to your kid (and, obviously, your kid could also start talking to anybody else on the Kik Messenger app). If someone sends them inappropriate content they can just block them at any time. However, what is generally recommended for minors using the Kik Messenger app, is to restrict their usage to the people they already know well in real life (by this we mean people who both the kid and the parent or guardian know and trust).
There are risks involved in using the Kik Messenger app or any other app of their kind or a social nature. However, when it comes to children the risks have more to do with online predators or situations where they may be exposed to bullying or inappropriate content. “Phishing” is what we call or someone or a bot (not a Kik bot like the ones you can find in the Kik bot shop, but a bot designed for nefarious purposes. Although very often phishing is about getting a hold of your financial information or your credit card details in order to steal money from you, when it comes to kids phishing is more about finding out their real identity. What follows are some guidelines for kids using Kik Messenger:
- Do not use your real name either as your user name or your display name.
- Never give people personal information about yourself. Do not give them any clues about your identity (or the identity of anybody close to you), where you live, where you go to school, etc.
- Only chat to people you know from real life. Do not add anybody you do not have met in real life.
- If someone makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, do not hesitate to block him or her. They will not know that you have blocked them and will not be able to bother you any again.
If you are an adult in charge, make sure that you keep an eye on the interactions. Sometimes, a kid does not realize what is going on but an adult can identify spiky situation sooner.
Is There a Minimum Age For Kik Messenger?
Now that we have gone through all the different things parents and guardians should be made aware of, we should talk about how old kids need to be in order to be allowed to use the Kik Messenger app.
First of all, kids younger that 13 are not allowed to have a Kik Messenger app. When registering, Kik Messenger always asks potential users to enter their date of birth. If the date of birth indicates that the potential user is younger than 13, their application will be rejected and they will not be able to create an account of the Kik Messenger app.
So only teenagers (over the age of 13) and adults can actually register to Kik Messenger. Having said that, if someone is between the ages of 13 and 18 years old, they will only be allowed to register to Kik Messenger if they have permission to do so from their parent or legal guardian.
This means that you should always be aware of your kid having registered to Kik Messenger.
Unfortunately, it is within the realm of possibility that your teenager has lied about his or her age in order to register to Kik Messenger. In that case, they would be able to use it fully without your knowledge. Unless, as if we suggested, you have access to their email account. You could always check all their inboxes as we have also suggested but there is also something else that you could do. If you have access to their app store (the Apple app store or the Google Play App Store), you should also be able to check what purchases they have made and what apps they have downloaded and installed.
If you then, through those methods or any others, find out that your kid is using Kik Messenger and you are not happy with this you could always deactivate their account. All you will need to do is to follow these simple steps:
- Grab your kid’s smart phone or mobile device where they have downloaded and installed Kik Messenger.
- Open Kik Messenger.
- Go to settings.
- Go to account.
- Tap the reset icon.
- Enter your kid’s email address (this needs to be the email address that was used when registering. The one you should have full access to).
- Then check the email account for a deactivation email from Kik Messenger. If you cannot find it, be sure to also check the junk mail folder.
- Click on the deactivation link within the email from Kik and follow the onscreen instructions to complete deactivation.
If you do not have access to your kid’s email account or, for any other reason, are not able to follow those steps, there is an alternative. You could email Kik Messenger on email@example.com and ask Kik to deactivate the account. Be sure to use “parent inquiry” as your subject line and include the following information on your email:
- Your kid’s Kik user name.
- Your kid’s age.
- Your request to deactivate his or her Kik Messenger account.
Upon receiving your email, Kik Messenger will deactivate your kid’s Kik account and confirm this to you by replying to your email.
The Kik Messenger app is not for children under the age of 13. If a kid under that age is using the app it can only be because they lied when they registered. In that case, their account should be deactivated immediately. If a kid is between 13 and 18 years of age they can use Kik Messenger but they always need a parent or a guardian to authorize their registration. Luckily, it is easy for a parent or guardian to request the deactivation of a minor’s account. Do you have any thoughts on this? If so, please do not forget to leave a comment below.