The Dark side of Discord

OtherWorldly

Member
Dec 3, 2018
2,007

If your teens play videogames, there’s a good chance they’ve found their way to the Discord chat service, or will soon.


In case you haven’t heard of it, there’s plenty of good, but also a lot of bad and ugly. How ugly? Like, 9/11 jokes, racist memes and kids telling each other, “Go kill yourself.”


The free service, accessible from mobile devices and computers, allows users to talk to friends or strangers in real-time via voice, text or video chat. It made its debut four years ago as a way for people to communicate while playing videogames. With the rise of “Fortnite” and other popular online multiplayer games, it has exploded. Discord Inc. says it now has more than 250 million registered users, up from 130 million a year ago, and that 850 million messages are exchanged daily.
While the virtual hangout now has many corners, where people talk about everything from colleges to birds (yes, birds!), Discord says its biggest sector remains gaming. And that’s where racial slurs, sexist comments, politically incorrect memes and game-shaming are prevalent, users say. Anybody can create chat groups, called servers. You’re technically supposed to be at least 13 to use the service, but Discord doesn’t check age when you sign up. The official Discord servers for games such as “Fortnite” and “Call of Duty” are well-policed by the games’ makers. But most conversation takes place in private, invite-only servers, according to Discord.


“We will not go into a private server unless something is reported to us. We believe deeply that privacy is a right and something we should support as a company,” Discord’s marketing chief, Eros Resmini, said.
The users I spoke to said the gaming servers are a predominantly adolescent-male playground. User reviews in app stores and elsewhere on the web echo a similar refrain: Discord can be a great way to hang out with friends, but ugliness is often right around the corner.


Jack’s mother, Christine Naccarato, said the constant loud chatter and swearing has become so disruptive that when she wants to call her father, she has to go to her car.


“These kids are not calling, texting or Skyping each other anymore. They’re all just Discording,” she said. “The going sentence between these kids is, ‘Go kill yourself.’ I hate it.”
Many kids, like Jack, shrug off all the chatter as harmless trash talking. But for some kids, who would feel left out if they weren’t on Discord, it can be deeply troubling.


Adam Pletter, a child psychologist in Maryland, estimates that about 20% of his gamer patients say they’ve been harassed while on Discord.


“I have several patients who take the attacks on Discord very personally because they often go to school with the same kids. They may struggle socially at school during the day and the same kids are even meaner on Discord,” he said.


Dr. Pletter, who treats patients with ADHD, depression and anxiety, said kids who struggle with those issues are more susceptible to the bullying. “If you’re starting off with some vulnerability, you’re more vulnerable in life and more vulnerable on Discord,” he said.


Discord’s Mr. Resmini says parents have a responsibility to ensure their children are using Discord safely and appropriately, just as they do with any other type of internet usage.
 

stersauce

Avenger
Oct 28, 2017
1,115
san jose, ca
this is just a social media issue in general, but it makes sense with some gamers being "gamers" and discord skewing towards a specific demographic. i could see how discord can easily indoctrinate younger folk.

my nephew says he and his friends have a discord and have a room just to talk about homework.
 

FrakEarth

Member
Oct 25, 2017
661
Liverpool, UK
I straight up wouldn't let my kid use anything like this tbh. You can't protect them forever, most kids hear some mean shit at some point or another, but I wouldn't want them mixing with random turds from school or the wider internet anyway. At least while they're young. Close friends on there maybe. I'd definitely tell them to come get me to join the chat like Korg calling upon Thor.
 

Dr. Monkey

Mafia MVP
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
5,913
I mean, it's called Discord. The clues were there all along.

I straight up wouldn't let my kid use anything like this tbh. You can't protect them forever, most kids hear some mean shit at some point or another, but I wouldn't want them mixing with random turds from school or the wider internet anyway. At least while they're young. Close friends on there maybe. I'd definitely tell them to come get me to join the chat like Korg calling upon Thor.
Our rule is voice chat with RL friends only (10 year old) and only in the family room. Feel like that's good for now. But kiddo's friends' parents are mostly totally hands off, which makes me sad. I keep up with games and memes and it fosters communication, so far at least. We'll see what happens in the teen years.
 
Dec 9, 2018
396
These articles are weird since you can just leave the server or mute or block the people that are annoying you. However, they have to find a way to scare the parents over "the Discord".
 

Mulciber

Member
Aug 22, 2018
2,363
These stories always amuse me. The internet has been like this since forever. But if something is new(ish), you can scare the olds.
 

Nacho

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,005
NYC
This just sounds like trash kids being trash kids on discord. Not sure exactly what discord as a chat service has to do with making kids not shitty.
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
12,157
I encourage parents to realize that yes, actually you can turn an otherwise good young adolescent person into a toxic racist misogynist with a steady input of peer pressure, peer reward and acceptance. And that’s not even questionable.

Try to make sure you know what they’re being exposed to and do your job as a sensible parent and don’t assume they know better or that you understand their inputs and influences.

This is their social group not rock n roll. At least keep an eye on them. You don’t need to spy. Just pay attention. Most will be fine. Don’t assume yours is most.