In a world sprinting towards the age of effortless communication, there has been a sudden influx of user-friendly messenger apps which are designed to keep you connected with your loved ones at all times. The prerequisites for most of these apps are simple: an unlimited Wifi connection, a general know-how of how to operate an Android phone and ample amount of time to devote to the activity of texting. One such app is the Kik Messenger, which also transmits messages using your Wifi connection but the one feature in Kik that makes it stand out is its anonymity.
Having accumulated about 240 million users by December 2015, Kik has a unique registration system which is seldom seen in other apps. Registering for Kik is incredibly straight forward; all one needs to provide is a name, e-mail address, age and a username. It involves minimal verification of information which makes it easy for underage children and cyber predators to register and start using the app. One does not need to provide a telephone number and the sole piece of information that can be used to track a user is the designated username. A low data tracking record also removes the leash on the user by allowing him/ her to explore and make use of this app in whatever way he/she sees fit.
While Kik has amassed praise for various ideas like encryption and innovation, its introduction to the markets has proven to be a double edged sword. Notorious for its involvement in child exploitation, many cyber criminals have used it to facilitate their own ulterior motives and this has led to a horrific rise in the number of cyber-crimes. One particular case of a 13 year old called Nicole Lovell grabbed eyeballs when it came to public notice that she used the app to meet an older man and was subsequently kidnapped and murdered. This led to modifications in the age limit to use the app and the controversy eventually died down.
While the restrictions imposed by Kik still need to be more stringent, it is up to the parents of children to monitor the usage of such apps. Cyber-crime needs to be nipped in the bud and this initiative needs a proactive participation from the parents. Young, impressionable minds need to be made aware of the dangers lurking beyond the four walls of their homes. After all, children are the generation which will carry forward mankind’s legacy and it is imperative for us to lay the correct foundation of wisdom in these young minds!