Are Smartphone Messenger Apps Safe for Young Users?

Officials say the messenger app "Kik" may have been how Nicolle Lovell, 13, met the college students arrested in connection to her death.
2:40 | 02/03/16

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Transcript for Are Smartphone Messenger Apps Safe for Young Users?
We have more now on that messenger app kik. The tool the young woman may have used to meet the student charged with her murder. Now, a big question for parents this morning, are apps like these safe for your children. ABC's T.J. Holmes is here with some very important information. Good morning, T.J. Hey, robin, you remember there was a time when parents had to warn their kids abouting looking out for strangers at the playground. Now they have to warn them about strangers on their cell phone. Kik, this wildly popular app. Anyone can download it for free and within a matter of minutes they can be sending a private message directly to your child. A young life cut short, an investigation concludes that 13-year-old Nicole lovell used an app called kik, so what do parents need to know? Experts say many so of these instant messengering apps can lead to threatening behavior and law enforcement worry about potentially dangerous encounters. I'm willing to say kik is a devil for young children. It's like a free ability to text anything you want and parents can't see the phone Numbers coming in and out. Reporter: Experts say many of these are popular with teens and predators. You can sign up as anybody you want to be. It really becomes a private hunting preserve for some of these pedophiles. Kik is a free app where users don't have to use their real names but can share message, photos and video. Parents sometimes take these away saying the child has abused it but only need a wi-fi signal to be able to communicate. Reporter: ABC reached out to the people who run kik who told us kik cooperated with the FBI for their investigation. Kik cooperates with law enforcement to combat child predators anywhere in the world, either under provision of a court order or in emergency situations such as this one. Some apps can sort users by geographic location, others by school, some by age. So how do you keep your family safe? The first thing parents need to do is set ground rules, secondly, they need to know the technology, know how the parental controls work and, third, they need to talk to their kids and have ongoing conversations about safety so that kid when it comes time makes that smart decision. There are plenty of apps like this but this is one of the largest most popular, 250 million users, 70% under the age of 25. No parental controls and no age verification and the scary thing the user name, you have to have a user name, most kids give it away. Look up kik me on some of these and you can find people saying come find me on this kik app so it's downright scary. Just like that. Just like that and directories, you can put in the age you're looking for, gender, you can target folks by age in some of these directory, it's scary. Thanks for bringing that to us, we appreciate it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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