What is Discord?
Discord is a relatively new communication platform that people can use on their computer or smartphones. It’s not quite as interactive as apps like Instagram or TikTok, so kids are less likely to use it in an attempt to gain followers. It’s more in line with other apps like Snapchat that allow users to communicate with one another via text, video, and audio recordings.
The platform was developed in 2015 with gamers in mind. The founders were gamers and wanted to create a fun way for people worldwide to connect using various mediums. Users can connect with people they already know, or they can make new friends. Just like playing interactive video games, you could choose to stick with your friends, or you could branch out and make new friends online.
Since then, Discord has gained traction and has grown exponentially. It now has 150 million monthly users, and those users can create a variety of topics to chat about. Since Discord is not a social media platform, users don’t interact with it the same way they would for apps like Facebook and Twitter. Discord doesn’t use algorithms to filter what you see, so you’re less likely to be driven toward specific topics. Users have to choose the topics they want to see and the people they want to talk to.
Should parents be worried about their teens using Discord?
As a parent, it’s always important to be aware of your child’s internet use and to monitor what they’re doing on the internet. Since today’s kids have grown up with internet-ready devices, they tend to know more about it than most adults. So, do your homework and find out what your kids are using. If your kids are using the Discord app, try downloading it as well so you can see what the platform is like.
Anonymity on the internet has its pros and cons. On the plus side, your kid does not have to link their account to any of their personal information. They can even make up a username that has nothing to do with their real name. No other Discord users should be able to find out personal information about your kid unless your kid directly tells them.
The downside to anonymity in a communication platform like Discord is that all of the other users can hide their identities. This makes room for people with bad intentions to lie to kids on the platform and trick them into giving out personal information.
Remind your kid that they should NEVER give out their personal information to people they meet online. They should not agree to meet anyone in person. Your kid should maintain their anonymity and be suspicious of anyone who tries to get personal information from them.
Discord requires that its users be at least 13 years old to join, but there’s no real verification process for that. If your kid isn’t a teenager yet, then they really shouldn’t be on Discord anyway.
Given the nature of the platform, plenty of users post content that may contain profanity or off-color language. Some of the servers and channels contain adult content and are specifically meant for people who are 18 and up. However, it’s pretty easy for a kid to lie about their age on the platform since their age won’t be verified.
If you are worried that your teen might accidentally see some adult content on Discord, check out Discord’s website’s explicit media content settings. It will give you a step-by-step guide on how to block certain content from your child’s app. This will make sure that adult content doesn’t inadvertently come through on your child’s page, and it will give you more control over who they can chat with online.
Talk to your teen about online safety
If you are a Millennial or a Gen X-er, then you likely had to navigate the world of online safety when you were younger. Maybe you used the old AOL chat rooms in the 90s, or maybe you are also a gamer who plays online with people you’ve never met. In any case, the same rules apply today as they did back then.
As your kid grows up, they need to understand the importance of online safety. Talk with your kid about their user experiences and make sure they know to stay on guard even when they’re online.
Never give out personal information.
Never agree to meet up with someone in person.
If someone is trying to get personal information from them, they should tell you immediately.
If they feel like someone is trying to get them to look at inappropriate content, they should tell you immediately.
They should not send inappropriate pictures of themself to anyone.
If the situation feels weird, it is weird. If someone is creepy online, your kid should show you what’s going on.
Like every other connective platform, Discord can be acceptable for kids, and it can be dangerous for kids. It’s up to you to determine if your child is mature enough to handle the responsibility of using the platform correctly.