What should parents know about Kik?
Kids and teens love using the chatting app Kik Messenger because it's free, it's popular with their friends, and they can quickly and efficiently add cool Web content -- memes, viral videos, images, and more -- to their texts without any message or character limits. The ability to easily interact with and share popular, trending items is a huge draw for kids (whose lives pretty much revolve around the Internet). The other thing kids like about Kik is that you can sign up with only a username; you don't have to tie your account to your phone number, as you would with traditional SMS messaging. That lets you chat with a much wider range of potential chat buddies -- whom you may or may not know. It's been connected to the alleged murder of a 13-year-old Virginia girl by a college student.
Parents also should be aware that inside the Kik app is a huge range of other apps, some of which cost money and not all of which are age-appropriate. The additional content defies categorization: There's Nearby, a Tinder-like dating game that matches you to other users in your area; the New York Times, which offers access to top stories as well as more in-depth articles for a fee; Funny Pics, a gallery of photos from the website Reddit; and Jam, where you can read about musical artists, see photos, watch videos, buy merchandise, and, of course, chat with other fans. There also are lots and lots of games. Learn more about the pros and cons of Kik and how to help your kid use it responsibly.