What is Kik Messenger?

Kik

Kik: In simple words, it is a free instant messaging and social networking application that uses your phone’s data plan or Wi-Fi connection to send messages to other users, without the need for SMS. It is available for iOS, Android and Amazon (Kindle Fire).

Kik

While Kik isn’t the only one offering similar features, it sets itself apart with a distinctive but controversial effort to target a specific demographic: Kik appeals to the teen crowd because of its emphasis on privacy and anonymity. As of 2016, Kik Messenger had some 300 million registered users and was used by approximately 40 percent of teens in the United States. It has not disclosed any user figures since 2016.

The trick is that you don’t have to register your phone number with Kik, you only need your name and an email, which gives you an extremely private activity: you only identify yourself with the registration username. With just that ID, Kik lets you exchange messages, photos, videos, drawings, stickers, and more with other users. While this attracts teenagers (the official minimum age is 13), it also brings with it some security concerns.

With a username instead of a phone number, you don’t share your personal information with others. No one can see your email, phone number or date of birth, although within a Kik group members can see your username. Another function allows you to find contacts on the platform that match emails or numbers you have on your phone.

Kick Features

The application looks similar to an SMS messaging application, but with a series of additional attractions. Like most of these systems, Kik sends notifications to let you know when the message was sent, when it was received, and if it was read. You can customize the alerts with different tones and you can also apply themes to your chats. Another feature tells you in real time when a contact is responding.

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Kik really stands out for its social media integration. You can use Kik to invite friends or family via SMS, email, Facebook, or Twitter. If the friends you have stored as a contact on your phone sign up for the service, Kik detects that they are online and sends you notifications to connect. You can also join public groups organized according to themes. Additionally, Kik has introduced a Meet New People feature that allows you to enter chats with other Kik users based on their interests.

Kik Codes

Kik users have a unique code, similar to a QR, that can be accessed from the settings. This allows you to find or invite new users to the service. How to do it? Tap the search icon, tap Search People, and tap Scan a Kik code. When someone scans your code, a chat opens and they can send you messages. Also, you can find Kik codes online, coffee shops, and other places. Either way, you need to allow the app to access your camera to scan Kik codes.

Video and group chats

If you want to start a group chat, you need to touch the search icon and press Start a group. Each group can have 50 participants, including you, and can be public or private. The latter are not searchable and users can only join if they have the group’s Kik code or if one of their contacts adds it. Meanwhile, those that are public can be searched and identified through a hashtag.

You also have the option to chat directly with a member of the group chat and check if they are available for direct messages. If you disable this function, no group member will be able to send you messages.

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For those looking for an alternative to Skype or FaceTime, Kik also has features of a video chat app. You can establish communication with up to six friends simultaneously in a private chat. A Video Chat switch allows you to enter or leave it whenever you want. Kik lists all your current chats, so all you have to do is click to enter.

Bot shop

Another feature geared toward teens is the bot shop, which is geared toward social interaction. You can chat with them, take quizzes, and find fashion tips, news, tips, and more in categories like Fun with Friends, Entertainment, Meet New People, Games, Fashion and Beauty, and Lifestyle. If you don’t have friends to chat with, bots give you a good starting point.

Chat challenges

The teenage fan base on Kik has generated many discussions about the app’s privacy and anonymity, as well as fears of some abusive behavior and criminal activity by adults. In 2017, a report by Forbes and Point revealed a series of crimes that affected young people who used the service. Kik responded to those concerns with guidelines and guidance for parents.

Despite Kik’s security measures and general recommendations, parents cannot view their children’s conversations remotely: they must have the password and view the chats on the same device. Nor is there a mechanism to prevent minors under 13 from registering on the platform.

Federal authorities

To avoid trouble, Kik contacts law enforcement authorities preemptively. The app’s security team is available 24/7 to respond to emergency situations. In most cases, Kik can’t read messages, but it can view (and retain) images and videos. Kik also retains data for 90 days to respond to requests and even posts on its website to download police request forms in PDF format.

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The company also runs web trainings for police officers on how the app works and participated in the 2018 Crimes Against Children Conference.

Despite those efforts, observers note that the process of getting information from Kik can be slow. The reason? The app can only find people on the platform based on username. Also, since Kik is a Canadian company, this process can also be even slower, since information requests from the United States must go through the Department of Justice.

Is Kik for you?

Kik is designed to appeal to teens with features to interact and have fun online. It is not for everyone. The company has taken the initiative in recent years to reach parents and police authorities, as well as other users, to protect the safety of the youngest.

online

More than ever, on Kik you should take extra precautionary measures, such as avoiding chatting with strangers, not physically meeting strangers, avoiding giving away too much information about yourself, and properly supervising children.


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