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Discord is an app that allows groups of people to communicate with each other at any time. It has branded itself as being a messaging app built for gamers. If you would like to teach your gamer the brain hacks and marketing ploys built into games, Dr. B offers a powerful teaching tool in one of her weekly coaching videos on the GetKidsInternetSafe App. With 30 days free and then only $19.99 a month to work through all GKIS parenting course content, it’s a blazing hot deal for screen safety and more quality connection in your family. In today’s GKIS Sensible Guide, you will learn all about Discord and whether it is appropriate for your child.

How long has Discord been around, and how popular is it?

Discord was launched May 2015 by Jason Citron and Stanislav Vishnevskiy. In 2020, Discord earned $130 million, with over 100 million active monthly users. Most of the revenue comes from a service called Nitro, which allows users to pay for upgrades to their servers. About 850 million messages are sent every day on Discord.[1]

Getting Started with Discord

Discord requires users to be over the age of 13 before they are allowed to create an account. This is a simple birthdate check and can be easily faked by children under the age of 13. Discord can be downloaded on the App or Google Play stores on mobile or by going to the Discord website and installing the application on a computer. Discord can also be used on any internet browser.

Before letting your child use any sort of messaging app, we recommend our Connected Family Course to help teach your child the dangers of the internet. We are also proud to offer exclusive videos and tips on our GKIS App that may help you manage your children’s online lives.

Features of Discord

  • Basics
    • When a new user opens Discord, they won’t have a lot of options. To get connected with peers, Discord servers have a link that can be sent out that works as an invite. When an individual clicks that link, Discord will open, and they will be prompted to join the server.
    • In each server, there can be multiple text and voice channels. These different channels can be used to keep larger servers on topic. For example, creating a specific voice channel for gaming is a common occurrence.
    • Users often have screen names instead of their actual names displayed. This can make it hard to keep track of who you are talking to, especially if other users change their display names frequently.
  • Nitro
    • Discord allows users to ‘boost’ a server with Nitro. This gives various benefits to the server and its members, including higher quality audio chat, exclusive and customizable emojis, and higher quality video sharing.
    • This costs a user $9.99 a month to boost a server. Servers may be boosted by multiple users for improved benefits.
  • Private Servers vs Public servers
    • Private servers require users to be approved by a moderator or be given a password to access the server.
    • Public servers are joinable by anyone.
    • Many game companies, such as Sims, Call of Duty, Among Us, and Fortnite have public Discord servers for their fans to join.
  • Private Chats
    • Discord allows users to individually message others based on their privacy settings. Explicit content can be filtered out at the user’s discretion.
    • Messages from complete strangers can be prevented completely by changing one’s privacy settings.

Controversies

During its relatively short lifespan, Discord has found itself at the center of several different controversies. Most recently and famously, it was discovered that several members of the 2021 Washington D.C. occupation used Discord to discuss and organize the Capitol Hill incident. Their server was subsequently deleted.[2]

In addition, numerous Discord servers are solely dedicated to the sharing of various types of pornography. Those servers are often easy to find and join, with little age verification required. So long as the user’s account says they are over 18, they are able to join these servers with no issue.

Benefits of Discord

Discord allows individuals to communicate with their friends easily. Discord does not inherently cost anything, so it is appealing to those with a limited budget. It helps the individual feel connected to their friends and gives them a place to chat how and when they desire. If you like a certain game, joining a public discord to talk with similar-minded people can be exciting and fun. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of servers dedicated to discussing video games, movies, books, or even mythology. Discord provides a broad range of groups.

Discord also appears good about protecting privacy. It provides a large number of settings to prevent instances of bullying, spam, or harassment from strangers. Users just need to know to turn them on.

Risks of Discord

Discord presents some apparent risks. The anonymity of users allows for cyberbullying to be very easy to get away with. Children are often targeted by older members of gaming communities. Users may block other users once they feel threatened, but this does little to prevent cyberbullying from happening. It simply prevents it from happening again.

In addition, the ease of access to pornographic content is a big issue. If a child wanted to look up pornography but didn’t want it to show up on their internet history, Discord can provide it discretely. If you are worried about what websites your child is visiting, consider browsing our article on red-light websites.

GKIS rates Discord as a red-light app. This means that children under the age of 18 are not recommended to use this app. We came to this conclusion based almost solely on the ease of access to explicit content. Perhaps with careful parent supervision, it could be considered a yellow-light app. So long as parents are able to monitor what servers their children are in and who they are talking to, Discord has no more risk than texting or Facebook messaging. GKIS encourages parents to talk to their children and make an informed decision on whether or not Discord is appropriate. For help choosing and programming parental controls and management programs, our Screen Safety Toolkit is a comprehensive research guide with GKIS recommendations and special offers and discounts.

Thanks to CSUCI intern Dakota Byrne for researching Among Us and co-authoring this article.

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting,

Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
GetKidsInternetSafe.com

Works Cited

[1] https://www.businessofapps.com/data/discord-statistics/

[2]https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/8/22221579/discord-bans-the-donald-server-reddit-subreddit

Photo Credit

Photo by Florian Olivo (https://unsplash.com/photos/Mf23RF8xArY)

Photo by Mark Decile (https://unsplash.com/photos/WA84FtTi7NU)

Photo by KrakenImages (https://unsplash.com/photos/8RXmc8pLX_I)

Dakota Byrne
Dakota Byrne
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