Dangers of Teenage Sexting

The Dangers of Teen Sexting

Sexting Apps Like Kik Can Be Dangerous for Teens

April 25, 2016

Earlier this year, a 13-year-old girl in Virginia slipped out of her room late at night to meet, based on what she told friends, an 18-year-old male college student with whom she met through a popular teen messaging app known as Kik Messenger. The college student is currently charged with the young girl’s murder.

Kik is an online teen dating app that can be used for people to meet anonymously online using an instant messaging chat system. It also allows its users to exchange videos and images. It may sound like an example of how the digital age of cell phones and social media have pervaded the lives of young people as well as adults, but it is important to understand that Kik, and other "dating" apps are anything but harmless.

Children are reportedly using the Kik app for “sexting”, that is, sending out nude or provocative pictures of themselves and sexually explicit text messages without any parental controls. There are no measures in place to authenticate who a child is communicating with or the age of the person. It is virtually impossible to know with whom a minor is communicating; making it easy for the activity to go unnoticed by a parent; and most importantly, exposes a minor to sexual predators.

The professional Treatment Team at Elk River Treatment Program (ERTP) stays alert to issues that negatively affect the lives of adolescents. Too often, parents and guardians are unaware of the dangers their children have faced until their behavior becomes unmanageable. Keeping parents and guardians apprised of the dangers their children face in our current, highly interactive society, ERTP clinicians strive to protect parents and children from harmful agents, and prevent adolescents and teenagers from getting involved with activities that lead to dangerous behavior.

Throughout the past decade, ERTP clinicians and support staff have treated adolescents harmed by the devastating effects of addiction, juvenile delinquency, peer pressure and low self-esteem. Now we are seeing the frightening effects of secretive, even subversive social media apps available to underage children that have open access to computers and mobile devices. ERTP officials believe it is extremely important to share information about dangers that deliberately undermine parental controls and even encourage elicit behaviors in young people.

Many argue that Kik developers are not responsible for maladaptive behaviors of teens, and parents must monitor their child’s access to the internet. But one of the appeals of the Kik app is that there are effective parental monitoring or controls. Kik’s disclaimer states an age requirement of 13 years or older before using the app, but there is no age verification process. While some messaging services allow parents to see duplicated or mirrored messages so they can monitor their children’s social media activities, Kik is designed specifically to skirt these controls. 

Parental apps like and are examples of apps that help parents monitor their children’s devices, some without the child knowing it. Parents can see whether their child is experiencing cyber bullying or has suspicious social media contacts. Parents can protect their child’s online reputation and receive warnings if a stranger is friending or communicating with their child in an inappropriate way.

Officials at ERTP strongly recommend kicking the Kik app out of your child’s life. Any company that promotes a product that undermines a parent's ability to supervise the actions of their underage child has no place in safe society.

Watch our blog for additional reviews about apps that have been flagged as potentially dangerous for children and teens. For more information about services provided at Elk River Treatment Program, please call 866-906-TEEN or visit Elk River Treatment Program.