WASHINGTON CO. (KDKA) — The Kik messenger app boasts that it’s one of the most popular in the country, with 40 percent of all teenagers subscribed to the service.
State police say a 15-year-old Bentworth High School student got into trouble using the Kik app when he responded to a text. Someone posing as a girl, sent him a semi-nude photo and asked the teenager to send a nude picture of himself.
“After that photo was sent, the person posing as the female requesting the information exploited that information, and told him that if he didn’t send money to an account in the Phillipines, his picture was going to be shared,” said Trooper Matthew Jardine.
The teenager reportedly tried to send money to the Philippines through Western Union but was unsuccessful.
“Never ever put anything on social media or send it across your cell phone that you wouldn’t want anyone else to see, your parents, your future spouse, anyone from ten years from now. If you don’t want that to be seen, don’t send it,” Jardine said.
Authorities around the country have complained about the Kik messenger app which has been described as unsafe for minors. The service does not require users to give phone numbers and does not verify birth dates. It has also been criticized for having inadequate parental controls.
Some believe it opens the door for online predators or others who misrepresent their identity and age. Like other school districts, Bentworth deals with social media issues among students almost everyday. Superintendent Scott Martin is calling on parents to pay attention.
“They need to talk to their kids and speak with their kids and actually learn about the tools and apps they are using, so they can check on them and see ‘what are you sending, who is this going to,” Martin said.