Is Your Child Online Dating On Discord Behind Your Back?
Discord is a social media chat app that is used for networking, workgroups, gamer chatrooms, and online dating.
In my young daughter's case, she used it for connecting with kids to play in the popular game, Roblox. Normally, I don't worry about the dangers of Roblox that I have heard exist for younger kids. I try to be on top of who my kid is playing with and talking to when she plays the game. I know that she plays with her classmates and sometimes, I will play a game along with her, too.
After my recent harrowing tale, however, I am giving Roblox and Discord the major side-eye.
The other night, as my child fell asleep, I tucked in her covers and took her wifi-only iPhone off the mattress next to her sleeping head. Normally, As I was placing her phone on the chair next to her bed, she got a notification. Who would be sending her a notification at this time of night, I wondered. I unlocked the phone and to my horror, it was a message from someone telling her goodnight and that he couldn't stop thinking about her!
Quelle horreur, as the French say! My daughter is only NINE years old!
I opened up the Discord app and found the chat log between my daughter and the person who sent her the message. It seems as if they have been having an online "relationship" for the past two months, unbeknownst to me. I realized that my daughter has been lying to me about who she is chatting with (she always told me it was her friend "Mya" from school. Turns out "Mya" was some dude named Daniel! Daniel claimed to be 11 years old.
Mmmhmm, sure he is. Where is the sarcasm font when you need it?
"Daniel", if that is even his real name, was sending my kid messages about how much he missed her and couldn't stop thinking about her. He sent her gifs with little cartoon animals blowing kisses. He asked her to share her deepest secrets with him. He asked her when they could have a face reveal. I have no way of knowing if this person is really an 11-year-old boy or if he is some 23-year-old perv!
The story gets a little wilder next. It seems "Daniel" wasn't the only one in the "relationship" that was full of lies.
My daughter had apparently told "Daniel" that she was 12 years old and that she had a mean younger brother. She also told him that her mother was "pregnant" and had fallen down at home and had to go to the hospital for a checkup on the baby. (She has some wild imagination. For instance, the brother she was talking about is her boy kitten, Fluffy. But saying that she was 12 years old? Wow, just wow.)
I did the right Mama Bear thing and sent that dude a message saying that he was not allowed to talk to my daughter again and that if and when I find out that he is not an 11-year-old boy, I will contact the police and have him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And then I blocked him and deleted the Discord app mess faster than a you-know-what!
Don't try me, buddy! He picked the right mama to mess with on the right day! If he is an adult, I hope whoever he is, he ends up in prison for trying to have an online "relationship" with an itty bitty child. I take the blame for not keeping as tight of tabs as I should have with my child's online behavior, but I caught it and nipped it in the bud. I also learned a lesson that kids these days are getting into messes at younger and younger ages! I thought this kind of stuff only happened to teenagers!
Fortunately, every time my daughter was asked to share her "deepest secrets", she responded by saying she had nothing to share and would then ask him to go play a game with her in Roblox. Now I have to question exactly what she is "playing" in Roblox because who knows what is going on without me knowing.
I grounded my child from the phone for lying to me, restated the dangers of meeting (and playing with) strangers in online video games and chat rooms. I told her that from now on, I will be watching E V E R Y thing she does in Discord, Roblox, YouTube, and on her phone. She called me a "stalker" and said, "I hate you!" but an hour later she gave me a heartfelt apology.
We parents have to protect our babies from internet dangers. Online predators are out there, so please, please be completely aware of who your child is talking to and playing with on Discord and on all other forms of social media!