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What is kik for

opinion

News that a year-old girl, Nicole Madison Lovellchatted with an year-old man on Kik the night before he kidnapped and murdered her, however, has added urgency to the parental quest of understanding what kids are getting up to on their phones these days.

All about the Kik Messenger...

At first glance, Kik is just another free messaging app for smartphones. You log in, you pick a user name, and you send texts, selfies, and emojis to your friends. You can play mobile games, make memes, watch videos, listen to music, and check out the funniest content on Reddit.

Does it encourage flirting?

Crucially, you can find and chat with total strangers on Kik. Two of the top five internal apps are Flirt! While the ability to match people up with strangers for a conversation is nothing new remember AOL chatrooms?

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That freedom seems to foster a certain breed of cyber-libertinism. Within a day of downloading Kik, two Guardian reporters were sent unsolicited photographs of butts and breasts. Anonymity is an important touchstone of free speech on the internet, and teens are an important target demographic for internet startups.

Kik is a popular mobile...

Local news reports are chock-full of tales of predators using the app to prey on children, either by contacting potential victims before meeting and raping them or by extracting child abuse material from them.

In January, for example, a year-old Louisiana man was convicted of using Kik to extort young girls into providing him with nude photographs.

The perpetrator pretended to be a young girl himself in order to persuade 45 victims, agedto share child abuse material with him. Kik declined to be interviewed for this story but said in a statement: We are reviewing all aspects of safety in an effort to further improve the experience for our users.

Balkam suggests that Facebook Messenger is a safer alternative, since Facebook requires users to display their real names. Kaiser emphasizes that the key for parents is to communicate — openly and frequently — with their children about their online lives.

He also stresses the importance of communication. The tech talk needs to happen almost once a year because of new technology and new apps. Kik, like the past, is a foreign country. What is Kik, and why are kids so into it?