Is Kik Messenger safe For Kids?

Is Kik Messenger safe For Kids?

Latest Edit: May 16th 2015

Kik Messenger is no longer JUST a messaging app, and is now rated 17+

Kik Messenger is constantly adding new “features” and changing settings, it now has a huge adult content spam problem. This post is growing and constantly being updated as new issues and features come to light. I apologise for the long read, but Kik is far from a simple messaging app now.

Scroll down to the Summary if you don’t need all the detail!

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 4.03.04 pm

What Is Kik?

Kik messenger is an incredibly popular free mobile messaging app with over 200 million users.

What Are The Dangers?

  • Insecure “Privacy” Settings that let strangers through
  • Spammers and porn bots sending adult content
  • Large public groups for chatting with strangers
  • Unverified, unrated adult hook up apps hosted within Kik
  • Constant approaches by strangers that can’t be avoided
  • Inability to ever log out of the device without resetting it
  • Hard for parents to supervise

Why Is Kik Messenger So Popular With Younger Kids?

Kim Messenger is a convenient, simple & free SMS substitute. It is one of the only cross platform (operates on all mobile devices) messaging apps that doesn’t require a phone number to be registered. For younger kids without a mobile phone this means they can use it on their mobile devices like iPods through Wi Fi. Note: Skype and iMessage also have this ability, but have better security to protect against strangers.

Popup before downloading on iTunes
Popup before downloading on iTunes

Kik Messenger Is No Longer Rated 13+

Previously Kik Messenger was rated 13+ on the app stores. In November 2012, Kik introduced apps within the messenger app (now called webpages), the age requirement was then increased to 17+.

The webpages (apps) are located via the globe icon lower right of the main message screen, and by clicking the + left of the message input window.  

Webpages inside Kik Messenger
Webpages inside Kik Messenger

Kik Messenger "Webpages"
Kik Messenger “Webpages”

Kik “webpages” Have Changed The Safety Level For Kids Substantially!

  • Kik Apps or “webpages” bypass Parental Controls around adult content
  • There are no parental controls or pin-like locks to disable the apps “webpages”
  • Many of the apps are ripoffs of other games like “Flappy Bird” so kids will be attracted to them
  • Mixed in with the “child-like” games are apps that are decidedly adult, “chat with stranger” apps and “hot girls/boys” type apps.
  • None of the apps carry an age rating so kids and parents can’t tell which are adult
  • Some of the apps have pornographic content
  • Signing into an app, puts your child’s name on a data base where they can then be contacted directly by strangers

Over 100 “Webpages” are now available on all devices

Some of the webpages that parents need to be concerned about are:

  • YouTube like video apps: Adult content
  • HeyHey! “Meet new people to chat and play games”  Lots of requests for underage teenage girls to hook up with older guys.
  • RolePlay: Find people to role play situations
  • Truth Or Dare: A dangerous game with other strangers online
  • Match & Chat: A Tinder Like app to find your match online
  • Chat Wheel: Like Chat Roulette, spin the wheel and chat with a random stranger
  • Seecretly Clean: Like Whisper and Secret online anonymous confessions
  • Nearby Chat: Using geolocation to find strangers that are nearby

There are so many chat with stranger apps I can’t list them all.

Will Kids Want To Use These apps (Webpages)?

Many children are NOT using these webpages… yet. But the developers have already stated that they will be actively promoting the use of these cards to their users, it is the way that Kik is monetising their free app. It won’t be long before your child will be made fully aware of the some 100 webpages/apps available through this messaging app.

Unverified Apps!

These apps do not have to go through the stringent verification process that all apps on the iTunes and Google Play do, apps are screened on these legitimate stores for spam, scams virus’s and pornography. The apps within Kik haven’t passed any of those tests. None of the webpages/apps show an age rating for adult content, and all can easily be activated by children without the child understanding what the app actually does. The list of these cards is growing, and unlike being able to look for reviews of these apps on the various app stores to see what they actually do, and how secure they are, there are no reviews that I could find for any of these apps.

Many children won’t find these apps/webpages, but as they appear below the messages window where “emoticons” usually are,  they will be hard to ignore, kids are always looking for emoticons to add to their messages so they will figure out where they are pretty soon.


There are now group chats in Kik so you can be invited to join a group where any of the members can chat, a bit like a forum or chat room. Its quite possible that a child will join a group or be invited to one that will involve large amounts of Kik users that they don’t know offline. Anyone can create their own group, so a child at school can create a chat group where they all talk in a group privately without any parental supervision.

How Are Other Users Finding My Child?

Address Book Sync

If your child follows the constant prompts to allow Kik to scan their address book, the Kik app will then find friends with a Kik account, or… anyone related to that person including adults. When I synced Kik with my address book I received suggestions to “friend” the sons and daughters of my adult friends in my address book, even though the child’s email and phone number was not in my address book. Friend suggestions may come from a “friends” connections and will effectively be a total stranger to your child.

Address book matching is dangerous for children on Kik Messenger
Address book matching is dangerous for children on Kik Messenger

Publicising Kik User Names On Social Media

If your child ever publicises their Kik user name on any social media, or someone else does, they may get contacted by strangers if privacy settings are not absolutely secure.

There are many other ways for people to find Kik Messenger user names. You can find them shared on other social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and Miumeet. Many Kik users include their Kik user name in their social media bio, usually with the #KikMe tag. Some enterprising folks have gone as far as to to list Kik user names on websites aimed at finding people to hook up with on Kik (no link to those!). Do a search for “KikMe” on any social media and it will bring up users advertising their Kik Messenger profiles.

Sharing your Kik user name on other social media is dangerous for children
Sharing your Kik user name on other social media is dangerous for children

Can you prevent strangers from contacting your child on Kik?


It is hard to know how scammers and spammers are finding and messaging accounts, some of the messages may come from the apps within Kik. But even without sharing my profile name with anyone and having no contacts other than my other test Kik accounts and having the so called “privacy” setting on, I have been approached by strangers on Kik.

The bottom line is you can’t prevent your child being approached by a stranger, who may have a pornographic profile pic, or may send your child a pornographic video or photo as way of introduction. Most Kik users have been sent messages from a complete stranger. This happens even with the “Notify for New People” feature, where you can supposedly switch off being notified of a message waiting for you from a new contact.

Update: May 31st 2014. Reports of Porn Bots (robots, automated accounts) sending unsolicited messages to users even with the “privacy” settings enabled. These new messages are showing up in the feeds and some look like they are from Kik Messenger admin, when they are not! Read this post from AdlandTV and this one from Forbes about the New “privacy” setting and Porn Bots. Remember in regards to your child seeing Adult content “Once Seen Never Unseen!”

Kik Messenger and Instagram

Kik Messenger users are using Instagram to find people to chat with privately on Kik. If your child also uses Instagram make sure they are not advertising their Kik Messenger profile name on Instagram. The picture (below left) shows the search term for Kik Messenger #KikMe on Instagram. There are over  26 million results for #KikMe on Instagram now. Putting this search term in Instagram search will bring up any photos or profiles that have #KikMe as a tag advertising their Kik user name, (warning it also brings up a lot of very graphic porn, don’t let anyone tell you that Instagram doesn’t have porn…). This is one way users of Kik Messenger find each other online, to then hook up in private message on Kik. The search term #KikMe is also getting more popular on the Facebook search engine.

Pornographic Profile Pictures

Enclosed in Kik Messenger are some adult “Chat with stranger” apps/cards. “Chat Now” (below middle) and HeyHey!” (below right) both had examples of pornographic profile pictures on the first page. Young children also have their profiles advertised on these apps as being available for chatting with anyone. Some of these profiles will be fake, but it is clear that many young children are signing up to “Chat With Strangers” on Kik Messenger, better check to be sure your child isn’t signed up to any like these, there are new ones being added every day just about.

Kik Messenger "Cards" or Apps
Kik Messenger “Cards” or Apps

Parental Controls

There are no parental controls for this messenging app of course, this app is designed for adults. And the usual parental controls on your child’s device won’t work within the Kik Messenger app. So blocking YouTube for example on your child’s iPod, won’t disable the other YouTube like video apps within Kik Messenger.

Parental Supervision?

Some parents are sharing messaging accounts like Apple’s Messenger and Skype with their children to supervise their interactions, this can be especially helpful for younger users, Kik Messenger doesn’t enable this ability. The moment you log into the same Kik account on another device, previous messages and conversations are deleted from the account. Logging out (resetting) of Kik messenger also deletes all previous conversations and messages, which for many parents makes parent supervision quite unreliable. Most users don’t log out of Kik Messenger so they can save messages, unless they want to delete all history. This means the messaging app is always on! Turning the mobile device off is the only way to disable it.

Privacy Controls?

Your child can create a unique user name like “PrincessSparklePony1” to avoid being searched for by their real name on Kik. Whilst this seems like a good privacy move, it also means that strangers can hide their real identity also. In settings under notifications the “Notify for New People” feature, where you can switch off being notified of a message waiting for you from a new contact is the only thing you can do to attempt to limit your child’s exposure to strangers. This is one of two safety settings. The other is “Message Preview” which also needs to be disabled. But by switching these two features to the off position it only blurs the message and the profile picture of the stranger, it doesn’t hide the new messages. The message still gets put into your message window at the bottom, you only have to tap the message to see it.

So unlike other messaging apps where you can actually block approaches from random strangers, you can’t on Kik, it just blurs the messages, and most kids will probably open the messages in case it’s someone they know. It’s pot luck whether the stranger sends them a pornographic image as way of introduction, this is happening more and more from reports.

Kik Messenger Privacy Settings
Kik Messenger Privacy Settings

This new video from Kik shows you how the “Notify for New People” works. Note: The button is turned to the on position by default when you first open an account.


Is There A Safe Messaging App For Kids?
If you want your child to have access to a free SMS style messaging app, you need to stick to ones that have no other purpose other than messaging. That have privacy settings that actually do work to block strangers from contacting your child. Safer apps like Skype and Apple’s Messages are still closed environments, but for younger children you can share an account to see messages going back and forth in real time. Note: Ensuring that what ever your child shares on these messaging platforms is being respected and not shared or edited and then shared further, is impossible.

I can only recommend Skype and Apple’s Messenger with strict supervision. Both apps need strict privacy settings enabled and secure user names to prevent contact by strangers. Constant checking of your child’s contacts and of the content being transmitted by younger teens is important for safety.

Skype is the closest to Kik with regard to it’s abilities without the extra dangers. It has group chat, it’s cross platform, you don’t need a phone number, you can make up a pretend user name, you can send video and pictures and unlike a social network it is more private.  The upside is that parents can sit in on chats for younger children to supervise which you cannot do on Kik. You can actually block strangers and your child won’t see their messages if you set up the very simple privacy settings, (Go to preferences/Privacy set all to contacts only) and if they only share their profile name with real friends. Warning: Skype now has a prompt when you open a new account to share your profile name with Facebook, obviously that makes Skype far less secure for younger children and young teens, so it is inadvisable.

Apple Messages has all of the same facilities as Skype but obviously only works on iDevices.

Remember how the internet works: You CANNOT supervise or control the recipient of your child’s message, and therefore prevent your child’s content from being shared on, as is, or in an edited perhaps defaced state. Your child is only as safe as their friends are. Education around internet safety is more fail safe in the long run than trying to outwit your child. Boundaries are still very important around apps and the internet to prevent your child being exposed to content they are not old enough to deal with.


It is so important that parents try out the apps their kids are using rather than just take their child’s word for it as far as safety goes. It is worth noting that iTunes and Google Play very rarely rate apps at 17+ unless there is a very good reason. If your child is using an app rated for adults you must pay attention!

  1. Kik Messenger is advertised as a messaging app for adults 17+
  2. Kik’s settings don’t block approaches by strangers. 
  3. Porn Bots are now rampant on Kik, sending unsolicited porn whether the “privacy” setting is enabled or not.
  4. The apps (Webpages) within the Kik Messenger App cannot be disabled by a parent permanently
  5. The apps within Kik Messenger are designed for adults, and some have adult content including pornography. 
  6. The majority of the apps in Kik are “Chat with strangers” apps.
  7. The apps offered for use within Kik Messenger have NOT been put through Google Play or iTunes verification process
  8. You cannot “share” a Kik Messenger Account with your child to supervise them
  9. Kik now has chat groups that have large amount of members. Public groups can be searched for, or set up by any user.
  10. There are many safer options for our children to message each other. Skype and Apple’s Messages.
  11. Teach your children never to accept friend requests from strangers
  12. Teach your children never to send intimate photos online

The YouTube video below was made in July 2014, the webpages are now located in a different area. The globe icon lower right of the screen leads to them, as does the + sign left of the message input window.  There are now over 100 apps (webpages) within Kik Messenger and the “privacy settings” are now less secure.

How To Deactivate And Delete Kik Messenger:

Several children ask me during my talks how to properly delete their Kik Account (Hallelujah!) It’s not just as simple as removing the app from your device. Below is the correct way to delete your profile and the data within it and how to delete it from their servers.

To Delete and Deactivate your Kik Messenger Account.
Make sure you can receive mail at the email address registered to your Kik account.

First: To deactivate your account: Open Kik Messenger
. Tap Settings
. Select Your Account
. Tap Reset Kik Messenger
. Enter the email address that’s registered to your Kik account on Kik’s Deactivation website.
. Kik will send you an email with a link to deactivate your account.


Click Here To View

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  • Rosie Purdy

    Kik needs to be taken off the market completely. Especially with their newest chat add on called Heyhey! Kik makes it incredibly easy for an adult male or pedophile to contact underage girls – some even as young as 13 yrs of age & under for sexual exploitation.

    • Leonie Smith

      Hi Rosie thankyou for your comment. I think its very important for parents to monitor what their kids are using on their mobile devices. There are even worse apps out there that can be easily downloaded. Kik Messenger is designed for adults, yes, if you look at the design, it looks very attractive to children with the graphics, but it states very clearly in their terms of service that the app is for adults only. Kids are only using Kik because either their parents are letting them, or the parents have no idea what the app can do, or don’t know their child is using it. Like every other aspect of parenting, the best parents are ones who have had involvement in their child’s upbringing, and continue to play a part in their offline and online worlds. Education for Teachers, Parents and children about the internet and technology is essential. Unfortunately most kids and teachers are getting that education, but parents are choosing to avoid it. So many schools continue to tell me that the parents are not interested in education around cyber safety. They are year after year avoiding it. Some schools are giving up on their parents. Other schools are trying to find ways of sneaking their cyber safety education into other meetings or making the cyber safety talks compulsory. You can’t block adult content very successfully if you don’t know what is adult content, or how to do it. Many parents need to get off their high horses and accept they need help.

    • Leonie Smith

      Thanks for your comment Rosie. Kid is absolutely fine for adults. No need for it to be taken off the market. It is even rated clearly on the iTunes store for adults. Parents are allowing it’s use and taking a huge risk. Most parents I speak to. 1. have never heard of Kik or 2. were entirely unaware of the risks involved in using it. 3. Didn’t know the existence of the “cards” or apps within it. It’s so important that parents take time to really investigate apps their children use, and read up on them.

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  • Catherine Horrocks

    Hi Leonie. My son has kik on his iPod and we had an issue with it yesterday (a kid from another school sending an excerpt from a horror movie which has freaked my son – and presumably some of the other kids – out). This has prompted me to do some research which has made me think about disabling his account of at least setting up some controls on it. I would also like to talk to the school and other parents about it to see if we can all agree on a common approach, eg, getting all the kids onto one of the safer platforms. One of my problems is that I have no idea how to manage the technical aspects of disabling or setting controls on apps. For now I have the iPod but don’t want to take that away permanently.
    Thanks very much.

    • Leonie Smith

      Hi Catherine thanks for your comment. As I’ve pointed out above there are no privacy settings or parental controls on Kik messenger. It is rated 17+ and designed for adults not kids. Many kids are using it because parents either don’t know about it, or don’t understand why the rating is 17+. The issue you speak of transferring video or photos, however could happen on any messaging app, such as iMessage, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber. As per the post above the only messaging apps I can recommend for primary school kids are iMessage and Skype due to neither of them actively encouraging linking with other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and both having privacy settings. Kik has other issues associated with it, which parents need to know if they approve its use, the hidden apps, for chatting with strangers etc…There is a video app in Kik which is one way the other child may have found the video he/she shared. There is nothing you can do to prevent your child receiving a video or photo from someone he connected to on a messaging app I’m afraid…all messaging apps allow it, and there are no settings to prevent this. Children need to receive education about sharing photos and video, and parents need to be far more aware of what kids are looking at online. If a child is sharing an adult video, then they must have access to it somehow through YouTube or other. I’m not sure how old your child is, but all kids under 13yrs should have parental controls setup on their mobile devices so you can limit what they download and which apps they can use. I’m about to do a post, prompted by your question on Skype and iMessage settings to help parents with their choice of apps. For some kids, if they can’t be trusted or have friends that can’t be trusted going SMS only might be the way, kids are less likely to send a file via SMS because it costs more….Here’s a post I just wrote up explaining the safer option of using iMessage or Skype with the Safety Settings that need to be set

      • Catherine Horrocks

        Thanks very much for your response, Leonie. My son is 10. He doesn’t have a phone, just an iPod so I guess that means that SMS is not an option? I started a conversation with his teacher yesterday and will be talking to other parents at the school. For now, we have taken the iPod away until we can work out how best to manage this.

        • Leonie Smith

          You are right SMS not an option on an iPod. Skype and iMessage good options, with the safety settings I’ve outlined in the new post I did. More emphasis has to be placed on education for both parents and children on transmitting appropriate images and video. Best of luck with your school. I’m interested in seeing the outcome please let us know.

          • Catherine Horrocks

            Will do. One of the teachers already spoke to the children yesterday and apparently the principal is putting an article in the newsletter next week.

          • Catherine Horrocks

            The article went in today and included a link to your other kik article. Very pleased with how responsive the school have been.

  • redtea

    Hi Leonie. I have a problem with Kik : we have an iPad at home. A week ago, I discovered that Kik messenger was in the list of bought apps. I never bought it. My wife neither. In fact, it was my teenage daughter who did it. I’ve discovered that she sent bikini pictures of herself with the iPad (she forgot to erase the files after……..). Whenever she wanted to use the app, she downloaded the thing and then erase it. I don’t know who received these pictures of my 15 years old girl, but I’m pissed. So we tried to apply the 17+ filter, but then I can’t use my whisky log app (and I’m vice-president of a whisky amateur club), and my wife can’t use Tumblr (apparently, there’s also adult content on Tumblr). Is there anyway to block the apps form the Store itself?

    • Leonie Smith

      Hi redtea thankyou for your comment. You can set up parental controls on the iPad, so that your daughter cannot download new apps without your password. At 15years old, your daughter is old enough to understand why it is unwise to send personal intimate photo’s of herself over the internet. It will be more affective in the longer term to address the issue around your daughters continued use of the app in this way against your wishes in the longer term rather than just trying to outwit your daughter. If you have given her boundaries around using Kik Messenger on the iPad this way, then you need to follow up the consequences of breaking those agreements. Some kids simply won’t follow advice or directives to stay safe, and this is where it is our job as parents to try as best we can to keep them safe. If your daughter is misusing the iPad then why does she still have access to it?

  • ib

    Hi Leonie,

    Is Kik Messenger is a payed app or kids can get it for free ?

    Is there any way for me, a parent to “read” what my son writes on KIK from another device or only if I go into his cellphone ?

    Thank you.

    • Leonie Smith

      Kik is essentially a Free app with “in app” purchases. You can purchase various add on’s within the app. The only way you can read another persons messages is to read them from within that person’s app whilst the app is logged in. Kik deletes all the history from messages if a user logs out of it. If you have another users log in info and try to log into their account from another device it also deletes the messages. You can only really use Kik Messenger and keep your message history from one device. Parents cannot supervise Kik messenger effectively, all messaging apps are very difficult to supervise. Some parents have shared messaging apps like iMessage. This is very useful for parents of much younger children, say under 10 years old, where the parent wants to be fully aware of what the younger child is saying. You can share many different types of messaging apps for this purpose but Kik is one of the few that doesn’t allow for this. Another reason that Kik is not suitable for younger kids.

      • ib

        Thank you so much. You answered all my questions to the full.

  • Raiseyourchildproper

    Just saying…you can block people within the app if they send you something inappropriate and this is just your side of the story. It can be appropriate if parents aren’t stupid and they monitor what their child is doing. It’s not hard on kik. Just take the device at unexpected times and look through it. Or establish rules before you give the Device.

    • Leonie Smith

      Yes you can block people, but for some younger kids it will be too late if they see something awful sent to them. This isn’t just my side of the story at all. If you do your research you can see how many other people have grave concerns with children being on Kik. In fact even the developers agree that it’s unsuitable for children and have banned them. There are many safer messaging apps that kids are allowed to use, that can also be supervised. It’s just not worth the risk. Thankyou for your comment.

      • okayimagirl

        Well a kid can’t receive bad pics unless they search a person and ask for it or post there kick on a social media

        • Leonie Smith

          Thanks for your comment, there are many ways that kids can be found on Kik Messenger. Kik messenger is simply not as safe or secure as other messaging apps.

    • concernedmom

      Taking the device at unexpected times may help some, but in a lot of cases kids delete immediately after receiving or sending inappropriate materials. Young teens are very curious or check things out because they are bored – my recommendation is to put parental controls on the device to limit your child’s ability to download apps. It is not foolproof but it helps.

      • Leonie Smith

        My thoughts exactly concernedmom Nothing is kids proof! We can only do our best and hope any mistake or risk out children take can be reversible and can be learned from thanks for your comment.

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  • Heaven Leigh

    I’m not going to lie. Ives sent videos and pics to someone and he said if I stop he would put them online. How can I make heim not do that and make him not have the pics?

    • Silent Hunter

      I recommend you contact the police.

    • Leonie Smith

      As Silent Hunter as suggested if they are nude or sexual in nature you should contact the police and report it. Block the blackmailer and delete your photos from your phone and any cloud based backup you may have activated, like iCloud.

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  • derpderpderp

    I Use kik and I have never had someone message me something dirty and if I did I would just block them ._it depends on the teen really because not all teens would talk to the person who is sending them dirty images

    • Leonie Smith

      I hope your luck holds derpderpderpderpderpderp….not sure if you read the entire, article…(don’t blame you if you didn’t TLDR…) but, here’s the thing…you shouldn’t be sent any pictures or messages from anyone if you have the “privacy” setting enabled…but unfortunately it only blurs messages from strangers doesn’t block them at all…not so good for a younger child. You might not be scarred to receive porn, but younger children who are using Kik will be. Not for kids…find one that’s safer.

      • jack johnson

        um u can still block people on it and its 17+ so its not for kids and if parents allow there children on this then they not monitoring there chat or internet use and those kids probly already look at porn as not being monitored so not going to scar them any more than they would be

        • Leonie Smith

          Thanks for your comment Jack, blocking people is not a great way to stay safe on this app. The problem is that someone can send your child an obscene photo before they have had a chance to block. A lot of kids even with the “Don’t notify of new contacts” setting on, will still click the message to see it, to see if it is someone they know, they then get exposed to whatever message is waiting for them text or photo. There is just too much spam and unwanted approaches on this app. When I talk to student the majority of Kik users have had really awful stuff sent to them. They won’t tell their parents about it, but it is happening. Other apps, just don’t have as many problems. Once you set up the privacy settings, if you don’t advertise your user name on social media, it’s much safer.

  • carterson2

    please review this safety app: Regards, Jim Pruett (901) 213 7824

  • jack johnson

    first 1) it only loads ur address book i am guessing the peoples children u said it added were using same email address and probably shudnt have even been on there anyway.. um second this is also for 17+ as it has been for a while so all these other apps u say about match and kik now apps u are meant to be 17+ anyway if parents dont monitor internet use of there children then they shudnt be parents in the first place anyway.. thank you

    • Leonie Smith

      Thanks Jack, I checked, the children were not using their parents email. Kik worked out that a child with the same surname and location in my address book was related. It’s really creepy. It works in the same way as Facebook does. Facebook finds out where you are located, and sends you suggestions for friends based on your connections and where you live, where you work what groups you belong to. Same type of deal. And yes it creeps me out that I get suggestions for my children’s friends on Facebook. And yes you are right, many parents don’t monitor, and it’s really hard to do on Kik because you can’t share an account. You can share iMessage and Skype.

  • Acloserlook

    Leonie, I must commend you on such an informative thread. I am yet to find anything that compares with this level of detail. After being introduced to Kik at the beginning of this year I began to notice all the “negative posts” regarding the app itself. Rather sceptical of this, I did my own investigation as to how and why Kik was getting such bad press. What I faced was rather frightening. As much as the app does what it says on the tin (this I cannot fault), I can only completely agree that the cards have let the safety aspect spiral out of control. Especially for the users that are younger than the recommended age limit. It is worrying how easy it is to connect these to the kik app, and within seconds you are faced with a publicised user name that can never be revoked. Maybe the kik team should look at putting restrictions on these cards, make them require authentication from an app store, E.g Itunes password?
    The CEOP states that in 2012-13 the use of smart phones in younger teens rocketed to 68%, this meaning the majority are and will be using apps like Kik. In my opinion it should be the developers that need to rework their principles on safety and provide adequate ways of protecting the end user, and that includes adults as well as children. I have read many times that the Kik trust and safety team are always actively working with law enforcemant and are always looking to develop new means to control those that abuse the application. This is always a positive, yet in certain circumstances can be too late. As you said “once seen, never unseen”. I guess until Kik and other app developers alike make safer user environments, then educating children towards their safety online is the only way forward. There is so much more I would love to say regarding the flaws that I found with Kik but I will leave that alone. As said to start with, amazing information and i hope more parents can acknowledge what is being said. Thanks

    • Leonie Smith

      Thankyou for your comment Acloserlook, I’ve been involved in online communities for near on 20 years. I have always had a heightened sense of privacy and safety online particularly for children. I believe parents need to understand what social media and apps do, to make educated choices about what their children sign up for. This is becoming more and more difficult with hidden “options” on so many apps.

      Kik Messenger is one of the first to be so successful with a link to unverified untested apps. I suggest they will only be the first of many as these things go. This rings alarm bells for me. We are as educators constantly informing our clients and attendees to only ever download apps from official app stores like iTunes and Google Play where most of the apps have had to go through stringent tests and quality control, (although Google Play is less stringent), then along comes an app that children are drawn to, due to it’s cross platform free fun nature, that has over 400 unverified apps accessible within it. Kik are allowing those apps, it’s their way of monitizing the app.

      About a year ago there were a few of those apps embedded within Kik on the iTunes store, and Apple told Kik they had to delete them to Keep Kik on the iTunes store. So Kik then designed a “gateway” to the apps with the “Top Apps” tab. Apple simply wouldn’t allow unverified apps within the app. I recon it’s only a matter of time that Kik is banned from iTunes due to the gate way. Apple are already cracking down on apps that have prompts within them to play advertising videos and the like to keep playing…it won’t be long before this type of work around is also disallowed, I hope.

      I don’t think the majority of kids are using these “cards” or apps, but as Kik is using these developers to monitise the app, they will start to make them more visible if they can. And for the kids that do use the apps, they are setting themselves up for all sorts of spam and approaches that no reasonable parent would want.

      Most Kik reviews don’t mention the “cards” Im not sure why, I don’t know if it’s ignorance or they are worried that kids will find out about them. But I’m in the camp of educating parents about exactly what an app can do.

      So many parents really think that all apps are safe if they are allowed on iTunes or Google Play store. I really want them to start investigating them. Consumer awareness is vital.

      The last school where I spoke to students, about 80% of the student who used Kik put their hands up to say they had received an approach by a complete stranger through Kik. This is unacceptable for an app that is used by Children. The 17+ iTunes store rating does nothing. I want kids to be able to have fun on apps, share things with their friends away from marketers and disgusting predators.

      The biggest problem I face is that parents don’t want to believe any of the negative stuff they read, they want to keep their kids happy, and want a quiet life. In the meantime kids get hurt. If not their kids, other people’s kids. This is a community problem.

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  • Kristen Vollmar

    To be honest, the only reason we use kik anymore is because it’s the only messaging app like it. Nobody really ever uses the apps, we don’t care about them. We just want to group chat with our friends without having to register our phone numbers or video chat or call. It crashes all the time and we’d rather all delete it

    • Leonie Smith

      Skype is a safer alternative, has a much better overall reputation. What about F.B messenger? Not sure of your age, but would you use that?

      • Silent Hunter

        Unfortunately Skype is going down the toilet. It doesn’t even work right on my Windows Phone, it sets me as online at 3 AM for no reason and then my friends don’t understand why I’m not replying to their messages. I had to delete it from the phone to fix that.

        Telegram is an excellent alternative. You do need to use a phone number BUT, you can use a landline. It will call you, and give you a number to input into the app to activate it. :)

        • Leonie Smith

          Thanks Silent Hunter will look into Telegram, Windows phones have a few problems from what I understand and sometimes don’t play “nice” with apps. Works fine on Android and iOS. The biggest problem is that it can use up battery life, although I read somewhere that they should be fixing that.

      • Silent Hunter

        Also, Telegram is open source, so it can be made to run on almost anything, not just phones.

      • anon

        Skype is a baaaad idea for “safe communication”. Spambots always get you and skype offers your personal network ip address. Which can be further info requested by your service provider for addresses, names, etc.

        • Leonie Smith

          Spambots won’t “get” you if your protect your user name, and set the simple privacy settings through the “Privacy” tab. If you go to the Advanced settings menu in Skype you can turn off the I.P security hole by ticking “Allow direct connections to my contacts only”

  • Sherry

    Is there a way to delete pictures that were sent on KIK? Will they still be floating out there somewhere even after “deleted?”

    • Leonie Smith

      There is no way to delete them if they have been sent. The receiver will have them.

    • Leonie Smith

      No way that I know of. Anything you send via a messaging app, leaves your control.

    • nicki

      They wont be gone until the chat is deleted and that’s only if the person in the other end doesn’t save it to their phone

  • Sara

    My kids (8 & 10) recently got Nabi’s. We’d like for them to have the ability to text with me and a few close family members. Is there a texting app that you would suggest for this age?

    • Silent Hunter

      I’d recommend Telegram.

  • someone

    kik is the best messaging app out there, lots of features and and its super fast. i understand your concerns, but your being very paranoid. kids arent that stupid. it all comes back down to the parents and how they raise their kids. if parents teach their kids thoroughly from a young age the dangers, then there shouldnt be a problem, and they shouldnt have to stop their kids from using the app.

    • Leonie Smith

      I wish Kids were that compliment someone, “teaching kids” is part of the problem but some kids just want to do what they want to do, regardless of what parents teach them. Also paranoia is fear of an imagined threat, due to my experience with users being hurt on Kik, it’s sadly NOT an imagined threat, it is very real. You are right kids are not stupid, but they are vulnerable and don’t have full life experience therefor we need to help them stay safe.

  • Silent Hunter

    I never even noticed the cards when I started using KiK. Although I don’t really think it’s appropriate for kids either if there really is this kind of obscene stuff on it. Mind you they have to find some way to pay for it, why didn’t they just put adverts in it like a normal company?

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  • Danish Ahmed

    Hey Leonie,

    This is a great article. I wanted to make you aware of an app that I recently launched that helps solve many of the issues presented. PLAYMessenger, is a kids safe chat app now available on iOS and Android. Would love to talk to you about it.

  • Scared of the outcome

    Hi I’m having the same problems as someone who posted farther below about the guy who threatens to post the pics online. He blackmailed me in to sending them to him and every time I tried to ignore him he would threaten to post the ones he already had and I’m scared that if I deactivate my account like I want to he will post them and ruin my life and my chances at an acting career and he stopped asking for pictures and I won’t speak to him for months then one day he’ll text me I will ignore it and he’ll make me respond by sending me one of those horrible pictures and saying if I don’t hell post it and make sure everyone I know sees them even though I don’t know him at all

    • Leonie Smith

      Have you contacted the police? I’m not sure where you live. In Australia we have some websites you can now report these types of violations to. I realise that telling a young person to contact the police might seem like an impossible thing to ask though. You may not have even told any other adult/parents/carer. You might feel that you have been caught up in something wrong and now feel bad about having even sent those initial pictures. Let me be very clear. YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME. You have been the victim of a crime. The crime of blackmail. If you are under age it’s a very bad crime. And you are not the only one, as you have seen on this website. This is what scares me about Kik, the blackmail. Young people pressured into sending photos of themselves to these creeps. Please try to find the courage to tell someone you trust. Keep screen shots of everything you can about this person contacting you. I do know that accounts on Kik can be very difficult for the police to trace, but Kik Messenger has an obligation to help expose these criminals, they are under pressure to comply. Some people have been caught doing this through Kik. It isn’t a lost cause. At the very least you need support for your issue, and I hope you can find that with someone who can help you. I hope you can find help.

  • nicki

    I honestly feel like some of this is false. I’ve been on kik since it came out, I’ve never opened one of the apps inside or used the “kikme” posts you mentioned, and I’ve never been contacted by strangers unless my friends gave away my username (which happened only once). Yes people do flirt and try to sext on kik but its as easy as blocking the person. It’s usually up to the Childs actions on whether or not he/she will be contacted. Usually the child will respond to a sext saying “I just want to be friends” or “I don’t want to sext but we can still hangout”. So its not the app, its the child.

    • Leonie Smith

      Nicki this article is written explaining how the user interface is designed and how it differs from other apps that actually prevent other users sending you a message before a friend request. It also points out the consequence of that for children. I don’t know if you are a child, but I know actual cases of children who are responding to pedophiles on Kik, I also work with the police who say that Kik Messenger is the app of choice for pedophiles they are at the front line dealing with crimes against children every single day. Looking at the apps within Kik you can see profiles of children who have signed up for them, clearly children are finding them. It is very important that adults understand that children do use technology very differently than adults do, they are far more exploratory usually, which is why they will find the apps and most adults may not. Any app that doesn’t block messages from strangers is very dangerous for kids particularly if the initial message contains a hurtful or pornographic image. It’s our responsibility not to place our children in a vulnerable situation if we can avoid it, when there are safer options available. Many parents don’t use Kik, and don’t supervise their children adequately online, as a community we should be responsible for the safety of all kids. We already have this attitude in place for many other issues where we know not all adults are good at protecting their own kids. I suggest to parents they steer their children towards some of the other messaging apps out there that are less risky that have settings that block stranger messages, and that don’t contain dodgy unverified hook up apps. I suggest you attend one of my talks if you can, and perhaps read this post on community responsibility to cyber safety.