5 ways young people are using Discord

The site is particularly popular with
young adults, teenagers and almost-teenagers. Here are five ways those young
people are using Discord.


Because Naima Mortley, a 12-year-old in
Bethesda, Maryland, goes to an online school, Discord is her main way of
interacting with classmates.

“You’re not talking in the hallways or
forming friend groups — everyone is sharing emotes,” she said, referring to
Discord’s custom emojis.

When she talks with her classmates and
friends on Discord, “we’ll use it for homework help or letting them know a
teacher is in a meeting or if we just want to play video games together,”
Mortley said.

Text Messaging

Asa Mele, a 12-year-old who lives
outside Boston, said he used Discord to talk with other Formula 1 racing fans
and to interact with his friends and middle school classmates. Discord, he
said, has largely replaced text messaging for him. He might send five texts
each day, but several hundred messages on Discord.

“Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok — I don’t
use any of those,” Mele said.

In a server for his classmates, students
can get updates on assignments they may have missed and collaborate on homework
problems in a voice channel, which is essentially a group phone call.

Although Discord prohibits users under
13, Mele said “nobody follows that rule,” and he knows children as young as 8
on Discord.

Pandemic Community

In Gjovik, Norway, 19-year-old Henning
Strandaa uses Discord to chat with other fans of his favourite Twitch
streamers, like chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.

As a gamer, he was attracted to the
platform because it was easier to use than Skype. But during the pandemic, he
said, he started using it to connect with his high school friends. He now chats
with people at his university.

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“It’s not really like any social
platform where you post or have a feed, like Instagram,” Strandaa said. “It is
kind of like a space for talking.”

On New Year’s Eve, he said, he plans to
travel to Finland to meet a friend he made on Discord.

Gaming Community

In Nicaragua, Brandon Ha, a 16-year-old
who has developed an animé game on Roblox, a gaming site popular with children,
runs a Discord server with more than 100,000 fans of his game. He’s a big fan
of the platform, and uses it to chat with people who play his game, much like
how a celebrity might occasionally interact with fans on Twitter or Instagram.

Discord, he said, got off to a bad start
— at least in terms of perception — with headlines about child predators and
white nationalists flocking to it. Because of that perception, though, and
because of a belief among many people his age that Discord is mostly for nerdy
gamers, Brandon said he and his friends at school were not open about their use
of the platform. “It’s something that’s embarrassing for us,” he said.

A common insult to frequent Discord
users, or to moderators who spend hours on online communities, Brandon said, is
that they need to “go out, exercise, touch grass.” One sign of its growing
popularity: Some of his friends who are girls are now using Discord, he said.

Music and Dungeons & Dragons

Kyleigh Jacobs, a 23-year-old San Diego
resident, uses Discord to call her friends during their weekly musical album
discussion group and to play the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

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Jacobs, who works at a medical devices
company, had never used Discord before the pandemic and does not play video
games. But she got on the platform on the advice of her friends.

“I mostly just use this for a really
specific purpose, for talking to friends or playing games,” she said.

© 2022 The New York Times Company

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