Many times the people exchanging messages are two consenting adults who are already in a relationship, but even this can carry at least a small level of risk.
One of the main risks of sexting is that the explicit messages can be captured in screenshots or otherwise posted to public forums, effectively damaging someone’s reputation.
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Most people, parents and teens alike, are aware of sexting and its potential harms by now .
But for those who are not, sexting is where people exchange suggestive and/or sexually charged messages or photos via text message.
And now with new platforms like Kik, things have never been riskier. Sexting on Kik especially encourages this, and it is of even greater cause for concern because it very often results in people exchanging messages with complete strangers. It is actually a fairly new platform of communication that was officially launched in 2010 but has taken off rather quickly from 2012 to 2014, especially among teens and young adults. Many young people actually do use Kik for its original purpose– to communicate better with friends.
Also known as Kik Messenger, it is essentially a text messaging system for smartphones (though a username is required) that comes with a built-in browser. Kik is an attractive form of technology because not only can people send messages, but they can also easily exchange photos and videos (without all of the extra steps involved when doing so via regular texting), and they can even send “Kik cards” for people’s birthdays and special events.
This is intended to make sharing information and files easier. All they need to do is visit the Kik Messenger website from their phone, download the program and set up a username. So, with the rise of Smartphone use among children and teens, it’s really not much of a secret why Kik has become so popular.
While it sounds innocent enough– and when used for regular conversations among friends and family members, it is– Kik has also gained quite the reputation for being a sexting platform, primarily among strangers looking for someone to hook up with. Like many other forms of social media, the user can then start contacting other usernames and adding friends to communicate with. One of the reasons many people have heard of Kik Messenger is not necessarily because of its growing popularity, but because RIM (Research In Motion, the company behind Blackberry) banned it from its app store a few years ago.
At the time, many believed the ban was a result of Kik being seen as a competitive threat to Blackberry Messenger.
However, RIM issued a statement that, although a bit vague, suggested that there were growing problems with user safety and security on Kik that they did not want their own users subject to. And as we will discuss here, there are indeed a variety of reasons to be wary of Kik Messenger, especially if you are a parent whose child is currently using it.
As we have established, Kik Messenger has grown quite the reputation as a platform for sexting.