Online communication is one of our modern world’s most current priorities. Everyone is occupied with the new means with which they can stay, at all time, connected to their friends and the digital sphere. Technology has facilitated information sharing and socializing. Now you can get over your awkwardness or shyness and eloquently introduce yourself to numerous people on the net. Technology provided us with various platforms to carry on our online social life conveniently. If you’re an instant messaging enthusiast, then you probably know everything there is to know about Kik Messenger, but if you’re not, well, let us tell you.
What Is Kik Messenger?
Owning a mobile phone (or an iPad) is all you need to do to get access to Kik. Kik Messenger is available for iPhone, Android phones, and Windows phones. Easy to download and even easier to figure out, you can easily get hooked. But what is the story?
The developers company (Kik Interactive) was founded in 2009 by a group of students in Canada who shared the same passion for smartphone technologies. In October 2010 the company released Kik Messenger, only to score 1 million users in the first 15 days. Kik Messenger was created to be a success (some of the credit goes to Twitter though).
What sets Kik apart from normal text messaging is that you won’t have to ponder over whether your message was received and read or not; beside, of course, it’s free of cost. What sets Kik apart from WhatsApp is that you don’t have to share your phone number with not-particularly-friends friends. And what sets Kik apart from BBM is that you don’t have to own a BlackBerry. So in a way, Kik does have an advantage, but we will get to the features later.
See how Kik Messenger compares to WhatsApp.
What Does Kik Mean?
We’re often curious about the story behind a famous name, but most of the time, the name just sounded simple and cool and no major story is involved. Kik Messenger is obviously named after the company’s name, Kik Interactive. Kik, specifically, is not a real English word.
Kik does not have a specific meaning, but the Internet jumps in to educate us once more. “Kik” is apparently a rather common misspelling of “LOL.” Because people use “LOL” more often than their own names, the funny twist could be behind the naming.
Like with most of social networks and other famous websites, Kik has made its way to our slang language. You can now use it as a verb, “Kik me when you get home,” meaning to text using Kik Messenger. You can also identify as a Kikster, a person who uses Kik Messenger to chat.
How to Get a Kik Account?
Signing up on an instant messaging app is guaranteed to be the easiest part. There’s a general rush associated with the young generations. They want to do things with a consistently fast pace. So if you’re creating an account on a chatting app, you know they’ll want to make it easy and quick for you.
Once you have the app downloaded, all you need to do is provide it with a little information to get going. One of Kik’s merits is that your communication with people is solely based on your screen name, so you don’t have to share your phone number or email with others. That makes the application personal while maintaining an atmosphere of safety. Your screen name is absolutely your choice and it’s what people will use to find and add you, but you can also add your real name so far acquaintances can conveniently search for you. If you’d rather keep your identity to yourself, then you enter your initials or your first name and the initial of your last. In this regard, your privacy is reliant on your choice.
Then, like with most applications, you’ll have to provide the app with a valid email address. Your email is never made public and the application only uses it to verify your account, send you news, or retrieve your password information if you happen to lose it later. Once verified, your account is up. You can add a profile picture and a personal message and get at it!
Check Kik’s Help Center for more information.
So far we have only discussed how Kik works and why it’s as good of a choice as any when it comes to mobile phone chatting. But let us dive a little deeper in the social factors surrounding the Kik phenomenon.
For some not completely obvious reason, whenever a chatting/socializing application is mentioned, there’s simultaneously the mention of sex. Probably because sex is a huge part of the public’s mentality, it was bound to also be a huge part of their online social activities. Naturally, a phone chatting application can be the perfect environment for a little naughty intimacy. But when such application is effortlessly accessible to the young ones, we have something to worry about.
Unfortunately, kids and teens today are irreversibly bored. Nothing seems to engage their attention long enough to stick to. Consequently, kids are always on the look for new venues, new experiences, new people–but reachable venues, reachable experiences, reachable people. The internet is the optimal fit. You can have it all in your own room, in your own bed, in your own hands.
The Internet jumped to capitalize on this need, providing them with thousands of options, chat rooms, dating websites, social games, match making, you name it! Because Kik is quite private and can, at choice, keep your identity safe, sexualizing it was inevitable. Now many websites advertise their capability of finding you more Kik friends (and sex buddies).
We cannot blame or judge the means. Some could use Kik’s friend finder websites for innocent friendships, but mostly, they’ll be exposed to the other side of it: the sexting, the potential sexual conversations, and the, more possibly than you think, child predators.
Kiksters and Sexting
Various websites are specifically designed to help you find more Kik users to socialize with, with an implicit emphasis on sex. Try Kikme.net. The website is innocent enough and plainly claims that they’ll find you tens of new Kik friends. You share your screen name, picture, and a few words about you and they publish them so interested strangers can contact you. Of course there is no manipulation here. You get exactly what you ask for. Strangers do contact you; the strangers’ intentions are not the website’s responsibility.
The first thing you’d notice about such websites is that they are poorly written. The website also holds rooms for sexual orientations; there are rooms for gay, lesbian, bi, and straight kiksters. The websites are flooded with sex offers: users leaving their screen names and their desire for sex (and readiness). It is scary to imagine that your child is exposed to such language and behaviors.
But the websites only took the friend-finding techniques a step further. Primarily, teens used other social networks, and any public venue for the matter, to share their Kik screen names: Instagram, Twitter, Ask.fm, and even the public app store comments.
Your child’s indulgence in these activities can be dangerous. Aside from their naughty play with their peers, there’s always the possibility a perverted pedophile is lurking, waiting for the opportunity to manipulate a child.
Kik Security Features
Kik offers a few security features that organize your online communication. Kik has an “ignore new people” option that allows you to completely block requests from strangers to communicate. Accordingly, you can only add your friends or those you have a screen name for. This option could be useful to protect your child from potential predators.
It is also advisable to pick a complicated username that is difficult to guess. Anyone can type your pet name in the search box and find you, so when choosing a username, go for something a little more tricky: say, your favorite history figure and a random number.
You might also want to know that Kik doesn’t keep a long chat history, so if you’re planning to monitor your child’s online activities, Kik might pose an obstacle for you. Kik messages cannot be saved or backed up: a point for privacy, a disadvantage for protecting your family. Either way, make sure your children are fully aware of the online dangers. If they keep their Kik account exclusively for their friends and relatives, it can be a cool experience, though, still, not 100% safe.
What Is the Final Verdict?
Every new technological advance holds the potentiality for good and evil. Similarly, online applications can be used and abused. If you’re an adult, Kik could be great for you. It is private, instant, and free of costs. It allows you to send media, videos, voice records, and cool stickers. It has a funny Kik bot that can converse with you for hours. And it doesn’t force you to compromise your identity and share private information like your phone number or personal email address, or even real name.
On the other hand, Kik is too private for children’s use. You won’t be able to monitor your child’s activities or completely control what they get to see in the process. Kik is predominated by cyber sex and adult material. It can get too difficult always being on your toes trying to protect your child from viewing this or that. You might want to find your child a better, and safer, chatting platform.
Learn more about cyber safety and child protection on the Internet!