Ask Kids Privacy: Question about Privacy on Kik

kik logo

Kik is a messenger service app that is popular with teens and Ask KidsPrivacy has received questions from readers about monitoring, unwanted messages and accessing kik. This week, I received a question about kik and privacy. Kik does not have private and public accounts but teens can protect their privacy by managing their contacts and not sharing their username. Below are some helpful tips on privacy and kik. If you have other questions, kik has an excellent Parent Guide and Help Center.


Q: How do you put your kik on private so that only people you want can see it ?

A: Kik does not have private and public accounts like Instagram or Twitter. On kik, anyone who knows your username can send you a message and see your profile. In order to keep your profile private, kik recommends users protect their privacy by:

  • Choosing a username that’s hard to guess. Do not use the same username for all your social network accounts. Your kik username should be different from your instagram, twitter or  tumblr accounts. Kik also recommends choosing a name that incorporates letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Keeping your username name private by not sharing it publicly. Do not post #kikme messages on public networks such as twitter or instagram. Once you share your username, anyone who sees it can send you a message. Only share your username with friends and family and ask them not to share your username.
  • Using the Block and New People features to manage messages. You should turn on “Ignore New People” under Notifications. This will send all new contacts to a separate list that can be deleted. You can also block a contact which will hide all messages from this person.  For more information on these features, check out How can I keep my Kik account private? from the Kik Help Center.

Remember, kik has no logout button. If someone has access to your phone, they can go in to your kik account. You should always set a password on your phone. You can also force a logout by resetting kik but resetting will not only log you out it will wipe your conversation history deleting all your messages. For more helpful tips, check out a platformforgood’s safety tips for kik.

baby girl 2

Are you sharing too much in your Baby Registry?

baby girl 3One of the first internet safety lesson kids learn is never post personal information online; this includes full name, location and birth date. This rule is to keep them safe from identity thieves as well as snooping strangers. But before their first birthday, a child’s personal information may already exist online. When parents register for baby gifts, they are often sharing more than their preference for baby bumpers and bobby pillows.

Recently, a friend asked me to take a look at these popular online baby registries. He was buying a gift for a friend and was surprised by the amount of information posted. He found registries that contained a child’s full name, birth date, location, the parents’ full name and often the grandparents’ full name. All this information was public and easy to find. Last week, I spent some time investigating online baby registries.

Public Baby Registries

First, I checked out Babies”R”Us. Signing up requires a parent to enter their full name, location and their child’s arrival date. Parents can also add a maiden name, grandparents’ names as well as a personal message. Parents often use the personal message to announce their baby’s arrival by posting their child’s full name and actual birth date. These registries remain online for a year after the arrival date unless the parent calls Babies”R”Us to delete the registry.

Searching the Babies”R”Us registry, I could find an entry containing all of this information within a few clicks. Anyone can search the registry by just entering the first two letters of a last name. Enter “PA” and you can see 200 entries across the US. You can narrow a search by entering a city or first name. Within 2 searches, I had a registry with a child’s full name, birth date, city, state, parent’s name, maiden name and grandparent’s names.

babies r us full name

Other baby registries – including Amazon, Walmart and Target – displayed less information. Usually, the public fields were limited to parent’s names, location and the child’s arrival date. Again, parents could post additional information in a public message. This is where parents often added their child’s full name. Target and Amazon were the only ones I found that allowed for a private registry where only invited friends and family could view it.

target privacy

 

amazon privacy settings

“Why should it be private?”

I saw this question quite a few times on baby forums. When you are preparing for a new arrival, the last thing on your mind is child identity theft. With identity theft on the rise, parents should be cautious about sharing their child’s personal information. Recently I co-hosted a tweet chat with CSID and Lookout Social. One of the topics was how criminals mine social media accounts for personal information. I asked Joe Ross, President of CSID about the rise in child identity theft.

“Children today can have a digital footprint before they are even born. When parents post sonogram pictures to Facebook, cyber criminals become aware of a fresh identity on which to prey. In a poll by Posterista, it takes parents 57.9 minutes on average to share their newborns’ first photo on a social media site. Identity thieves are increasingly taking advantage of children, as most children’s Social Security numbers and personal information remain unused until they turn 18, leaving years for thieves to do serious damage. In this day and age, it is more important than ever for parents to be aware of the risks associated with child identity theft. CSID surveyed parents last year, and even though parents are aware and concerned about this issue, more than half are not currently taking measures to prevent misuse of their child’s information.”

It is more than identity theft. Cybercriminals can use this information for targeted phishing attacks. The information provided here, such as grandparents names, are also the answers to popular security questions. Most parents don’t realize how valuable this data is to a criminal.

If you are registering online for baby gifts, keep your information to a minimum. Your friends and family can probably find the registry using just your initials. Do not include your child’s full name. Remember, after the gifts are open delete the baby registry. If possible, use the available privacy settings. If the company you want to register with doesn’t allow for private accounts, send them an email.  New parents have enough to worry about without having to fret about someone stealing their child’s information.

For more information on Child Identity Theft, check out:

 

Child Identity Theft and Privacy Chat on April 7

child id theftIn 2011, a report from Carnegie Mellon Cylab discovered children were 51 times more likely than adults to have their identity stolen. The reasons for this is children have an unblemished credit record and thieves can use their social security numbers for years before being discovered. Since 2011, the concern over child identity theft has only grown. Now, several states are proposing laws to allow parents to freeze their children’s social security number until they are 18.

To shed light on what parents and kids can do to protect their identity, CSID is hosting a tweet chat and a webinar next week. On April 7, I am co-hosting the tweet chat with CSID and Lookout Social. We will discuss child identity theft including how thieves target kids, how social media impact kid’s identities and what parents and kids can do to keep their information safe. If you are on Twitter, I hope you can join us.

If you are not on Twitter, you may want take this opportunity to check it out. This is a popular site for teens and a following a chat is a great way to see how Twitter works. A tweet chat is a live discussion around a certain topic on Twitter. To take part in the chat, log in to Twitter at the set time (in this case April 7 at 11 am PT) and click on the designated hashtag (in this case #cyberSAFEchat). Everyone participating in this conversation will use this hashtag. So, when you click on #cyberSAFEchat, you can see everyone’s questions and comments. If you want to comment just add this hashtag to your tweet. If you miss the chat, I will have a follow up post with the top 10 tweets.

 

Mark your calendars!

Join CSID, LookOutSocial and KidsPrivacy

for the Twitter Chat on Child Identify Theft and Privacy

Monday, April 7 at 11 AM – 12 PM PT #cyberSAFEchat.