What is it?
Kik Messenger is a free texting app available on iPhone, iPad, Ipod touch, Android, Windows, Samsung Galaxy and Blackberry phones.
How does it work?
Account holders use Kik to text photos, videos and 'Kik cards' which can include YouTube videos, GIFs and drawings - to other users for free.
Why is Kik useful?
The Kik app is a fun and creative way to communicate with friends and kids love Kik because it's so much more than just typed messages. Kik is especially popular with younger teens who generally have a limited texting plan or use an iPod Touch because the application gives them access to free messaging.
What do you need to keep in mind about your children and Kik?
The new version of Kik is rated +17 in iTunes because it allows users to send content from other sites like YouTube and Reddit.
The biggest problem is that users often share their private Kik username on other public social networks like Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr.
Any user who knows your child's username can then send them a Kik message. Instagram and Twitter are full of #kikme requests with teens posting their usernames and there have been many reported cases of inappropriate adult contact because of this.
The best way to keep an account safe from unknown messages is by making sure teens use a different name for their Kik account than the one they use for Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. Kik also allows users to ignore new contacts by enabling the 'Ignore New People' feature under notifications.
When someone new contacts them the message gets sent to an 'Ignored' conversations list which they can then trash.
The app has a privacy setting in which users can block other specified accounts, hiding all messages from this person and deleting previous conversations with them.
Another thing to be aware of is the fact that, just like most social accounts, users can delete the message on their end but the people included in the conversation still have the message. Once it is out there, it can never be completely erased. Kik is always on and does not have a logout button.
Want to know more?
Commonsense media is always a great source of information for parents about the concerns around different social media. It's especially worth reading the other parents' reviews of Kik.