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Ask KidsPrivacy: How to keep Kik videos private

talking digital logoOne of the challenges for parents and teens is keeping up with all the new features added to apps. A year ago, a parent may have agreed to a simple photo sharing social network. Flash forward a year later and that same app now allows users to share videos and send direct messages. Kik messenger has added many new features over the years including video. Here is the answer to a question I received about recently about privacy and Kik videos.

Q: If someone invites me on Kik what should I do? How can I make a video private on Kik?

A:  A new feature on Kik is the ability for users record videos of up to 15 seconds and share them during a chat. Users can also share videos previously saved on their smartphone. Friends can save shared videos by tapping on the video and choosing save or opening it up on full-screen and choosing the download arrow.

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Ask Kids Privacy: Question about Privacy on Kik

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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.

Ask Kids Privacy Answers Questions about Kik

kik logoCurrently, my most popular post is What parents need to know about kik. Kik is a messenger service app that is popular with teens. Given its popularity, it is no surprise that many of the ask KidsPrivacy questions I receive are about kik. Here are my answers to several recent questions about viewing kik messages and receiving messages from unknown users. Need more information? Check out kik’s Tips for Parents.

Q: My girlfriend had someone hack into my phone and retrieve my phone log. Will she be able to do the same thing if I’m using the kik app??

A: Kik does not have log out button. So, if she access to your phone’s apps, she can open the Kik app and see the undeleted messages. Kik displays the last 1000 messages for each undeleted conversation.

The bigger question is why is your girlfriend hacking into your phone? In an honest and healthy relationship, partners should not be spying on one another. MTV AThinLine has some excellent advice for teens on how to deal with this situation. I included the relevant answer below and urge you to check out their section on Digital Abuse – Spying .

mtv spying

Q: How are strangers able to message my daughter on Kik?

A: Anyone can send someone a message on kik as long as they have know the kik username. Some teens post their usernames on public social networks with the hashtag #kikme. So, if their username is easy to guess or they posted it publicly on Instagram or Twitter, they may receive a request from someone they don’t know.

Now, some of these strangers may not be real people. Symantec recently reported about adult web cam sites targeting kik users. When users share their kik usernames publicly on social networks, spammers can collect them and send these users a direct message. The profile pictures for these unsolicited messages are often inappropriate and the messages themselves provocative.

Kik is working to eliminate these porn bots. For now, when a user receives a photo from a random kik user, kik blurs the profile picture and the sent image or message. Kik also keeps messages from new people separate and users can turn off “notify for new people” option in Settings under Notifications.

kik ignore chatWhen they receive a message from a someone not in their contact list, teens can choose to ignore or chat. Teens should click ignore. From there, they can choose to delete, block or report these users as spam. If the message violates kik’s policy, they can also report the user by sending a message to kik.

To limit chats to just friends and family, teens should not post kik usernames publicly and if they do receive an unwanted message they should take advantage of kik’s reporting and blocking options.

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Friday Rewind – Kik and Unwanted Messages

rewindHappy Friday!

On Friday, I am answering your questions and sharing helpful blogs and resources. So, if you have a question about kids living life online or a specific app, go to ask KidsPrivacy and watch for your answer in my weekly Friday roundup.This week, I am answering a question about Kik and how to delete unwanted messages.

Q: I read that you should have your kids ignore new contacts and that kik stores these and they can delete them. Does the child have access to look at them before deleting them? My son recently was sent some inappropriate texts and pictures….if I could have him turn this feature on and he would not have access to them I would be okay w/ him keeping kik. However, if he can still go in and view them then I don’t feel that it’s really protecting him.

Yes. Kik does have an “Ignore New People” feature. Once this is enabled, Kik hides these messages in a separate conversation list. To enable this feature, go to the settings menu and select “Notifications”. In notifications, choose “Ignore New People”.

kik ignore people

New People can still send a message it is just kept separate. You can hide but you cannot eliminate them entirely. Your child can reduce the likelihood of receiving these messages by creating a username that is hard to guess and not posting their username on Facebook, Instagram or other social networks. 

If they do receive a message in their ignored conversation list, they can delete it. When someone they don’t know sends a message, they will see a number in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. To delete all these messages without reading them, tap on the number. This will display the “Ignored” conversation list. Don’t open these messages. Delete them all by tapping on the trash can in the top right corner.

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If you discover these messages are coming from the same user, your child can block them. To block someone, go to settings and select “Privacy”. From there, choose “Block List” and either enter the user name or tap the “+” sign and select the user you wish to block. Once someone is blocked, your child will no longer see their messages, all their conversations are deleted from your child’s Kik account and they are permanently removed from your child’s contact list.

If these messages violates Kik’s Acceptable Use Policy which includes content “that is harmful to minors in any way”, you can report it to Kik by sending them a message

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Kik knows they have a lot of teens using this app so they have published a Kik’s Guide for Parents. If you have other questions, check out Kik’s Help Center.

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How to Monitor Kik Messages

rewindHappy Friday!

Every Friday, I am answering your questions and sharing other helpful blogs and resources. So, if you have a question about kids living life online or a specific app, go to ask KidsPrivacy and watch for your answer in my weekly Friday roundup. This week, I am answering a question about monitoring. 

Q:  Is it possible to monitor my child’s usage on Kik and to whom she is messaging!?

A: Kik is a free messenger app. I like to think of it as a super texting app where kids and their Kik friends can have group chats and share videos or pictures. This app is especially popular among younger teens who have a limited texting plan or only an iPod Touch. Download Kik and you have free messaging. To learn more, check out my post What parents need to know about Kik.  

Where kids run into trouble is sharing their private Kik username on public social networks. Teens post their username with a “Kik Me” request on Twitter, Instagram or other apps. Once they share it publicly, anyone can send them a message. The ability to share any type of content is why Kik’s rating changed from 12+ to 17+. 

If you were hoping for a monitoring software recommendation, I am afraid most do not work with Kik. These programs can see text messages but not messages through a messaging app. Kik will not  provide parents with access to their teen’s messages. Kik does recommend “if you’d like to monitor the messages your teen sends and receives through Kik, it’s best to ask your teen not to delete conversations, and to provide you with access to their smartphone or iPod.”

If you want to make sure they are limiting their contacts and sending appropriate messages, you can check their phone. In our house, I conduct surprise phone checks. During these checks, they sit next to me and we go through their phone. This is part of their family phone contract. I ask lots of questions and review each app.

If you decide your child is not ready for Kik, you can limit the apps they download. Parents can set age restrictions for apps by using the parental controls on their GooglePlay or iTunes account. You can also try web filtering software. I do not have a personal recommendation but I know parents who use and like Mobicip and Net Nanny.

Ultimately, the best monitoring system is the one between their ears. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it includes opportunities to discuss why it is important to limit contacts to friends and family and how easily a private message can become public.

Thanks for your question!