Social networks, apps and games
app-icons-Kik

Kik

Kik is a free instant messaging app that lets you send text, photo and video messages to individuals or groups. You can also play games and talk to chatbots. The ‘Meet New People’ feature lets you start a conversation with random users – for this reason we wouldn’t recommend Kik for under 18s.

13+

Official age rating

15+

Parent age rating

What do parents say?
11+

Child age rating

What do children say?

At a glance

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Expert view of the risks...

Sexual

High Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk

Bullying

Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

High Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

High Risk

O2 Guru top tip

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On Kik safety

In settings, show your child how to report or block contacts.

Guru image for videos

What you should know

 

We think it’s only suitable for adults

 

Kik is similar to other messaging apps, letting you add contacts using their phone number, username or email address (or they can find you this way). But Kik also has some unique features we think make it unsuitable for anyone under 18, which we explain below.

 

It lets you chat to random people

 

The ‘Meet New People’ feature lets you chat to random users around the world. It keeps you anonymous but it’s easy to share personal information and add each other as friends. A lot of the chat we came across was sexual in nature and there were no restrictions based on age. In other words, it easily connects children to adults without moderation of the chat.

 

It’s easy to come across inappropriate or mature content

 

The ‘Public Groups’ feature is designed to let you meet people with similar interests. We easily came across groups that talked about sex, including selling nude pictures, self-harm, suicide and drugs. There weren’t any restrictions based on age.

Top tips for staying safe

Exploring apps, sites and games together is a great way to involve your child in the decision-making process.

Be positive about what you see, but also be open about your concerns. Ask them what they think is appropriate and what worries them.

If you decide it’s not appropriate, then make sure you explain your reasons why.

You might decide it’s ok for your child to use. If so, make sure you follow the tips below to ensure it’s as safe as possible. And work out a time when you’ll next discuss the app.

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

You might want to start by asking:

  • What kinds of things do you share online?
  • Should we share everything?
  • What shouldn’t we share?

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You wouldn’t give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

It’s important to check the privacy settings on your child’s Kik account.

We recommend only sharing things with friends and always keeping your location private.

You can visit Kik for specific information on keeping your account private.

There’s a feature on Kik called Meet New People that lets you start a conversation with either a random user or someone with similar interests to you.

You won’t see the other person’s username but you can share usernames and add each other if you choose to.

Make sure you talk to your child about who they should be talking to and what information they should be giving out.

Kik has advice and information on how to keep your child safe on the app, which we recommend reading and talking about together.

‘Public Groups’ groups are designed to let you meet people with similar interests, but a lot them deal with adult or more mature subjects, such as sex, self-harm and suicide.

Your child might think Public Groups are a good place to explore and talk about particular topics, perhaps because they’re dealing with something themselves. While discussing issues with other people can be helpful, Public Groups aren’t moderated. This could mean your child might see something that is upsetting or even triggering.

Remind them they can speak to you, an adult they trust or a trained Childline counsellor.

Your child might receive upsetting or negative things from other users on Kik. If this happens, they might want to report or block them.

Kik has specific guidance on how to report other users and how to block someone.

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about worrying things they see online.

Public Groups on Kik (talked about in the tip above) deal with a lot of topics and issues your child might find interesting or informative. It’s important children and young people have safe places they can explore different subjects but we don’t think Kik is the best place, because the chat is unmoderated.

Childline info and advice

Childline has lots of helpful information for children and young people with info and advice on:

Childline message boards

There’s also the message boards, a community where you can post about anything from how you’re feeling and what you’re going through to your favourite music, poems and recipes. Every post is checked by Childline’s moderation team first.

Childline support

Let your child know that they can contact Childline about anything, whatever their worry. They can call, chat online or email a counsellor.

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Talking to your child

Having open, regular conversations with your child will help you to really understand and explore the online world together. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.

Talk about staying safe online

What children and parents are saying about Kik

We've spoken to over 2,000 parents and kids to find out what they think.

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Kids

What do children and young people dislike about Kik?

The main things they told us they don’t like about Kik were:

• Being contacted by people they don’t know
• You can be sent nasty messages

This app is unsafe as you can be chatting to strangers across the world and they have access to your account. And those strangers could be anyone.

Young person, 18

What do children and young people like about Kik?

The main things that children and young people told us they like about Kik were:

  • Meeting new people and making friends
  • Talking to your friends and sharing funny posts

It's nice and simple. I have met people who help me through my day-to-day life. They help me relax, care for me when I'm sad. It's very easy and simple to use. The block and report system is very easy to use.

Boy, 15

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Parents

We asked parents about the following areas of Kik:

Signing up

Most parents thought it was too easy for a child to sign up to Kik.

Appears to have little requiring you to verify who you are. They don’t ask for identifying information in the way that other apps do.

Dad of 16 year old

Very simple and quick, only name, email, birthday and password required. Didn't ask me to agree to any T&Cs or anything like that.

Dad of 8 and 11 year old girls

Reporting

Overall, most parents thought it was easy to find ways to report unsuitable content and behaviour and block people from contacting you.

It is not too difficult to report or block someone on Kik.

Father of three children

Once you suss out the app layout and account settings it’s relatively easy.

Father of 9 year old girl

Privacy settings

There are no real privacy options other than using phone contacts and a block list.

Dad of 2 and 8 year old girls

Safety and support

Only advice I had was a pop up that said that a group discussion was "PG13" and that it would be monitored for inappropriate content. No links to define what PG13 meant in real terms.

Dad of 8 and 11 year old girls

 

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