Discord and Teens: Practical tips for parents

Discord is one of the most popular apps being used by kids and adults alike. Is your teen on it? Are you? And what does its recent update to 17+ mean? Let me answer some questions

What is Discord?

Discord is a messenger app and website. Users join servers according to their interests. In each server there are a number channels where people talk about sub-topics or join smaller groups. Some servers utilize screen-sharing and voice chat to livestream gameplay and help out their fellow gamers, or just talk to their friends.

How old do you need to be to use Discord?

Now this is a pressing question! Discord updated its age requirements to 17+. But here’s the thing, nothing on Discord has actually changed.

My oldest child is a young teen and was surprised one day when the app disappeared from his iPod. It had updated overnight and became a 17+ rated app. He was so sad, losing a community he belonged to and not being able to use it to converse with Twitch streamers he followed. But there was a problem letting him have it on his iPod again, all having to do with how Screentime works with Apple.

Parent/Child Discussion

Apple products allow parents to manage their child’s screentime on designated devices. This is what we have been doing with our oldest child. He has an iPod and we talk about the apps he wants and allot him specific amounts of time for each of them. However, we had him limited to viewing only the apps we had already downloaded that were rated 12+ in the AppStore.

After a lot of discussion between parents and then with him, we decided to let him have it on his phone again. First we allowed apps rated 17+ on his phone, but then indicated that he wasn’t allowed to download anything without us approving it first.

Yes it’s kind of a pain to have to approve every little thing he likes or wants to try. However, it’s valuable to have these discussions and not make a decision based on parental convenience. He sees that his input is important to the decisions made about his life.

How this can be applied to your family

No family or child is the same. With every family we work with, and every child, it’s understood that there will be different needs and issues to deal with. It’s important to take every situation individually so that the best outcome for the individuals are achieved.

Talk to your child. Understand why they want to be on discord. Decide together if it’s appropriate for them. They might not be ready for the responsibility and that’s ok.

If you decide together to move forward with downloading the app, monitor its use and model positive tech behavior. I game and use Discord to talk to my fellow gamers. When I’m talking to my gaming friends, I will often talk about the discussion out loud with my spouse and children so they know what I’m doing. Even if they don’t care about the topic. Monitor their use by asking about the servers they are on and ask specific question about what they’re talking about. See if you can’t have a conversation and get to know them better this way.