Kik has been around since 2009, but it wasn’t until around three years later that it started gaining traction and developed
a vast user base, which is now made up of over 275 million people. Kik is a messaging app that anyone can use, but rather
than having a melting pot of users from around the world, around 70% of Kik users are located in the US, and a vast majority
of those people are teens.
This messaging application is bent on connecting the world, but it’s users are mostly children who frankly, shouldn’t be connected with the entire world. Anyone can be literally anyone they want on Kik, as all you need to do to sign up is to create a username and password; you can even make up an email address to go along with it - Kik doesn’t try to verify who you say you are, but that’s not something it cares about.
And it should, as kids are being exploited and blackmailed into doing some stuff that no one, especially a kid, should be subjected to. Kik’s sexting and blackmail issues have actually gotten so bad, so out of control, that even a sex offender felt like speaking out and giving parents a much-needed warning about the very real dangers of sexting on Kik.
After being told about the app by a friend, the man, in his thirties, quickly saw how dangerous Kik could be. He said, “The first thing that I thought was, ‘Wow! I can be whoever I want to be. I can get anybody I want. I can achieve my sexual glorification through this app. That’s when I said ‘You know what. I have to stop this.’”
A man who’d been convicted of criminal sexual conduct almost 20 years ago saw the dangers of this messaging app very quickly; if a guy like that thinks this app is a problem, then it’s definitely a problem. He may be reformed and have his urges under some control, but you can’t expect that from all people who pose a threat to minors and young adults.
Just a few days ago, on April 15th, a 27 year old man in Tampa Bay, Florida who was a volunteer football coach for Tampa Bay’s Youth League was accused of trying to solicit pictures of a teen boy’s private area for money. How could such a guy even contact a teen?
Kik, of course. Likely enough the teen was already on it to talk to his friends, but who knows if the man, Davarius Durham, already had a Kik account for his personal use.
Without the 15 year old boy’s parents knowing, a man with the intentions of sexting and exploiting children easily whipped up a Kik profile, and then found the boy, presumably by searching his name directly in Kik. Instagram and Twitter allow users to make profiles private, but Kik doesn’t really have that option; you can block people and prevent new friends from sending you a message first, but what if a predator made a multitude of profiles and tried each of those until their target started communicating with one of the accounts?
Twitter and Instagram allow you to block literally anyone you want from ever seeing your photos or tweets, but you’re not given that courtesy on Kik; you have to be harassed first before you can block someone.
Kik could be a nice app that’s safe for kids, but it’s the total opposite; if you want more proof, here’s some: after her home was burglarized, a 15 year old girl was approached on Kik by an 18 year old who claimed he knew where the stolen property was, and would only give it up if she paid him or had sex with him.
Fortunately this teen knew what to do in this situation, showing her mom the messages, who then called the cops. The cops then posed as the girl, and within minutes of setting up a time to meet, the guy was at the families’ doorstep with a condom; unfortunately for him, police were on the other side of that door.
Because of the daughter’s quick wits the family avoided a disaster, but not all kids know what to do when approached by strangers online, and some kids hide the fact that they have Kik from their parents; if they let mom or dad know about some guy who’s trying to talk to them on Kik, they could get in trouble, and that itself could be enough to keep kids from letting parents get involved.
A convicted sex offender, although one who has been reformed and can resist the urges he admits he still gets, believes that Kik is an app that poses a major threat to kids, the main Kik user base. That should be enough to scare parents, but kids still have Kik on their phones, and these kids are constantly at risk of being targeted by predators.
Kik doesn’t seem too intent on building an app that’s safe for kids to chat on, but that’s not the idea that spawned Kik. Kik is an app that intends to connect the people of the world together, but with 40% of US teens on the app, maybe it’s time Kik makes changes to protect it’s users.
Parents don’t know their kids have Kik, and with millions of teens all in the same place, predators will keep logging in and making attempts to exploit them. The people using Kik don’t seem like they’re going to log off for good any time soon, so maybe it’s time Kik takes matters into it’s own hands.