Lexie Pèrez-Grüber (Former Staff)
Teenagers are significantly using smartphone-messaging apps to attach with friends, relocating away from regular texting the is often limited and monitored by their parents. This apps provide them with unlimited, cost-free texting the is regularly anonymous and can be offered without parental controls. At an initial glance, it might seem choose an innocent method to affix with friends. But after a famous messaging app called Kik was connected to the fatality of 13-year-old Nicole Madison Lovell, law enforcement officials are urging parents to take steps to protect their children.
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Kik is insanity popular, with practically 40% the American teens using the app. Joining Kik is simple. Once the user picks the end their username, castle can find their friends by looking their username or use one of countless internal apps that can attach them come strangers. Several of the apps space strictly romantic. Because that example, Flirt! offers users a perform of individuals in their age range to, as it’s name suggests, flirt with. Rather are reproduction ground for trouble. For example, gamings such as truth or Dare and also RolePlay are often used for sexual activity.
Connecting with strangers digital isn’t something new. Yet what provides Kik distinctive is the anonymous nature the the app. The app asks the user for their genuine name and email yet works v a fake name and also does not call for a call number. Essentially, individuals who have the right to be whoever castle want.
Kik’s very nice extends beyond teenagers, and is recording the attention of sex-related predators who usage the app to go crimes. Because of the anonymous nature that the app, a sex-related predator can join as a teenage boy and also find potential victim through among the interior apps there is no leaving a trace. This isn’t simply a prediction; just a few weeks ago, a guy was caught posing as a teens on Kik and also sending inappropriate sex-related messages to a minor.
Law enforcement agents space warning that they consistently find situations of “sextortion” top top the app, in which a sexual predator urges a young human to send a pornographic photo of themselves and also then, ~ above receiving the message, endangers to write-up the photo online or harm the child and their family unless much more sexual photos room sent.
Predators also shot to arrange meetings v potential victims with Kik. Once they’re successful, these meetings deserve to be fatal. In November, a 15-year-old Ohio girl acquired into a car with a 41-year-old male predator who posed together a 20-year-old on Kik. He drove 500 miles away from her home to Missouri, wherein she was held captive and also abused for practically a month until authorities discovered her.
Law enforcement officials say that Kik goes father than most other apps to shield data and protect user privacy. Since of this, the information that law enforcement can acquire from Kik, also with a subpoena, is extremely limited. Follow to Kik’s regulation Enforcement Guide, Kik have the right to not access messages in between users, and also photos and videos space deleted a quick time after being sent. With a court order, the application can administer law enforcement through a time log of the incoming and outgoing messages, and can sometimes provide the user’s IP address. But due to the fact that Kik is based in Canada, the procedure to obtain information is slowed down, as requests for information need to go v the United states Justice
Federal regulation prohibits websites from collecting personal information from children under 13 years old. In order to develop a Kik account, the user must enter a birthdate that indicates they’re at the very least 13 years old. But because the user can quickly enter a fake birthdate, yes no way to ensure that Kik no collecting info on children in defiance the the law.
While over there aren’t any type of laws avoiding apps like Kik from existing, there are a variety of steps that parents have the right to take to safeguard their children. Professionals say that parents must make clear the they can and also will consistently monitor your children’s phone. In addition, parents should imply that their youngsters use facebook messenger rather of Kik because Facebook needs users to use their genuine name. There are additionally a variety of online resource guides the can carry out parents through the tools and resources to ensure the their children are for sure online. Us recommend discovering Family Online safety and security Institute’s advice on good digital education to get started.
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