‘Kik’ Out Dangerous Apps
November 4, 2015
Young people are always looking for the newest apps to download on their mobile phones. But some of these apps allow children and teens to hide information from parents or allow anonymous group chats, both of which can be dangerous.
One app that is popular with Arkansas teens is called Kik. The app, however, raises concerns for parents. The Kik app has more than 240 million registered users and reports that 40 percent of U.S. teens are active, averaging 97 minutes per week on the app.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate parents about the potential dangers associated with social networking apps, such as Kik, that tout anonymity and hidden features.
“As moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, we need to educate the children in our lives not only about ways to stay safe on the Internet but also about how to understand the latest technologies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We need to get smart online. Know your child’s passwords and check their phone, contacts and social networking sites regularly. And remind kids that what they post online is permanent.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for both children and adults to protect themselves online.
- Make a unique password for every social media site. Consider making the passwords stronger by adding numbers or special characters. Having strong, unique passwords for each site helps prevent hackers from taking over social media accounts to send spam, scam friends or use information against the owner of the account.
- Follow the “Front Page Rule,” which reminds social media users not to put anything on a social media site they would not want to see on the front page of a newspaper.
- Assume that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Just because a profile is deleted or information is removed, older versions can continue to exist on other sites.
- Use caution when arranging a face-to-face meeting with someone you met online as they may not be who they say they are.
- Do not respond to messages that are inappropriate. Encourage children to tell an adult if they ever encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Parents and guardians should consider downloading a monitoring service app that allows them to view the child’s smartphone activity.
The dangers from apps like Kik are present in Arkansas. Kik was a factor in a Faulkner County arrest last month. Mitchell Johnson, 43, of Searcy was arrested for a crime involving a child after sending photos to an undercover officer via Kik. Meanwhile, James Breedlove, 52, of Bentonville was arrested in January for exchanging nude photos with 10 girls under age 17 on Kik.
For more information about ways to be safe online and other consumer-related issues, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at (800) 482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.