WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A new messaging app is growing in popularity among teens, however local experts are warning of its dangers.
The VoIP, instant messaging and digital distribution platform Discord claims to be the “best app to communicate” through a variety of means. It first grew in popularity through popular gaming systems such as PlayStation or Xbox as it can be used on both computers or mobile devices.
Some of its features include voice calls. video calls, text messaging and public chat communities called “servers.” These communities allow users with specific interests to communicate, similar to a “channel.”
But local child advocates urged that its private messaging option is where teens should be specifically cautious. According to the Victim’s Assistance Center’s Child Advocacy Center MDT Facilitator Cassidy Crino is because users are not required to identify their age or identity.
Crino warned that Discord is a user-generated app, which can allow for inappropriate content. It has been linked previously to crimes against teens and human trafficking. Discord also lacks parental control features.
“There have been multiple cases linked to crimes against teens, as well as human trafficking,” Crino stated. “And that’s alarming enough. We all know that these crimes happen right in our backyard [in the North Country]. So it’s just a matter of time before one of these apps is used dangerously here as well.”
Instead of Discord, or similar apps, Crino suggested to use app where you can safely verify a users identity, or has parental controls. She recommended apps such as Facebook messenger or Facebook messenger for kids, but said it could be as simple as text messaging or FaceTime.