What is Kik Messenger?? Is it safe? Do you know if you child is using it? Most parents don’t! Last week, a 14 year old, Year 8 girl, went missing from her home with a 17 year old boy she met through Kik Messenger. Yesterday she was found. The pair drove to Colac in Victoria where they camped out overnight. Kik Messenger is a social media app that is free and can be easily downloaded from the Itunes App Store. To put it simply, it is like texting on a phone but it is free and can be installed on a smart phone, or an ipod or ipad. Parents are often not aware that their tweens and teens are on it and, as it is a private messaging service its use can be hidden or go unnoticed. In itself, like most apps, there is nothing wrong with it however away from the scrutiny and guidance of Mum and Dad, tweens and teens can stray into worlds that are not safe.
This is precisely what Krystal seems to have done. Upset, stressed and angry, as reported in, the Sydney Morning Herald article, Krystal Muhieddine found safe, was scared, Krystal met this boy, went to the movies with him and decided the next week to disappear with him.
Recently Kik, aware of the dangers of its own App, increased the sign up age to 17 Dear Parents, Kik Users must be 17+ now! Part of the reason for this is that Tweens and Teens were posting their Kik address on Instagram – Teens post ‘Here I am Pics’ and ‘Kik me @’ – opening them to exploitation by a larger audience. Some tweens are aware of the dangers Tween Parent’s Kik Revelation! but many are not and like Krystal, when their defensives are down they can be easily led into dangerous situations.
As teens move away from Facebook and into more private realms such as Kik and Instagram I challenge parents to be more and more involved in the conversation of where their children are and who they are communicating with!