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NSW Police have described it as ''the one social media problem involving teenagers'' - but most parents would barely have heard of messaging app Kik before this week. Kik's popularity among young people was highlighted by the disappearance of Sydney teenager Krystal Muhieddine, who left her house early on Tuesday morning in a car with a stranger before being found in country Victoria on Kik australia. Krystal's parents did not allow their children to use social media in the house, but Mrs Muhieddine said she believed her year-old daughter had been using Kik to communicate with the person with whom she left.
Kik is a free texting app used by more than 50 million people around the world that enables users to connect with strangers. Although rated for people aged 17 and older, experts say children aged are its main users. The app can be installed on iPod touch and iPad devices as well as smart phones. Instead of using phone s or real names to contact each other, each Kik member has a user name.
Conversations and images can't be viewed publicly, which makes it much harder for parents to monitor Kik than Facebook or Twitter. Cyber safety expert Ross Bark said Kik and Instagram were a ''dangerous combination'' for teenagers, who post photographs publicly on Instagram and then invite viewers to ''Kik me'' privately to chat.
NSW Police Force social media spokesman Strath Gordon said police were concerned drug dealers and paedophiles trawl Kik, ''taking advantage of that hidden communication''. No one is using their real names and that's a problem …''.
Parental ignorance of Kik makes the app particularly attractive to teenagers. They're chatting seemingly privately and feel there is no way anyone else can see.
But experts say blocking Kik or banning children from using the app is not the answer. Instead, they advise parents to educate themselves about the social media their children are using, and to set boundaries for that use. Parents should teach their children about appropriate behaviour online such as not conversing with people they don't know, and not meeting up alone with people they've only chatted to online. Police warning on social media messaging app, Kik.
Please try again later. The Sydney Morning Herald.
By Cosima Marriner December 1, — 3. Save Log inregister or subscribe to save articles for later. Normal text size Larger text size Very large text size. No one is using their real names and that's a problem …'' Kik has also become popular for sexting strangers.
Kik did not respond to Fairfax Media questions.
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