I know it may make you extremely worried to hear your child talking to strangers online.

It’s like the equivalent of him going out in public and talking to strangers. The internet is a scary place too with all sorts of different people that live all around the world. People in basically every single country can access the internet and interact with each other.

Is my son safe? Who is he talking to?

Don’t worry

This behavior is now part of normal internet culture. In fact not being social on the computer is not normal in today’s time.

I will explain how this new and overwhelming internet world works and how your child can be safer online.

Why Is My Child Talking To Strangers Online?

95% of the time, your kid is talking to his friends.

These are friends he’s made at school or through his video games. If your child makes friends through games, they will mostly be around the same age they are. Games are filled with millions of kids and young teenagers. Most of the older teenagers get annoyed at the young kids so they won’t make friends with them. And besides they already have their own friend groups after years of playing online games.

How do I know this?

Because I am one of them and all my friends are too.

Nearly every single kid has their own computer that they play games on and talk to friends. Talking to strangers online has become surprisingly normal and it’s not as dangerous as you think. Big organizations are starting to back this claim as well.

This current generation is extremely lucky and have grown up in such a different time. I’m sure when you were a kid, the only way you could meet your friends was outside.

Heck, I’ve even heard stories that parents nowadays used to have to set a time and meeting place to see their friends and sometimes people wouldn’t even show up. Then the next day you would ask your friends where were you? Only to find out they were at a different spot.

Times have changed. It is much more convenient to hang out with friends on the computer. Plus you can play the most fun, exciting and realistic games together. That definitely beats playing street soccer. Gaming is very common in every household, I wrote an article about the positive effects on video gaming for children here.

They Talk On Discord, Here's How It Works

Now I’m going to teach you kid terminology. You are going to understand how they communicate with each other. This almost feels like you are understanding a 5ft tall alien species.

First of all kids need a headset with a microphone, it acts just like a phone and they don't have to pay for credit (A headset is just headphones with a mic).

And second of all they need a program that they can all jump on and talk to each other. The main program everyone uses nowadays is called “Discord”. You may have heard your child tell their friends: “hey get on disc”. Disc is short for Discord.

When they hop on discord they hop on one of the servers that they use, then they jump in a channel.

They can only voice chat with people in the same channel. Usually channels are filled with 3 or 4 of their friends.

Only the people on the same Discord server can access those channels. So if your child is talking on the computer, you can ask what kind of Discord server they are on. Most of the time they will answer a friend's server. Which means it's a small server with friends of friends and that's it.

If you want to speak with your child and they are in the middle of a game talking, you can ask them to “deafen”. It means mute all voice chat so they can listen to you talk for a minute.

They will probably be shocked that you understand their language.

Pro tip: ask your son if you can put on his headset for a few minutes and just listen. This will give you a greater understanding of the types of people they are talking to.

Difference Between Push To Talk And Voice Activation

Now we're going a bit technical, but if you're a parent it's in your best interest to know these couple things.

There are two ways to talk on discord. Push to talk and voice activation.

Push to talk means your son has to hold down a button like “V” for example while he's speaking for people to hear him then it cuts off when he releases the button.

Voice activation means the mic is constantly on and people can hear everything in the room or loud noises around the house like a dog barking.

If you don't want his friends hearing you talk to him, you can ask if he has a push to talk, if he doesn't then you can say “mute your mic”. Which will mean his microphone will be muted and no one on the voice chat can hear your conversation.

Video Chat

You may have seen multiple people on webcams talking on your child's computer. This is a part of discord and very similar to zoom or skype.

They could be talking to strangers online through a video call.

Don’t worry about your son being seen on a webcam because only people that have their cameras enabled on Discord are seen on the computer. Everyone else can just be heard through the microphone.

But, this gives you great insight to the people he's talking to. If you haven't seen this before then you should ask if they are in a video call and if you can see who's on it.

Conclusion

I hope this information calmed some of your nerves. Being a parent in this new age of the internet can be really scary. When kids are talking to people and you can't hear their voices yourself it can be really weird trying to piece it together. Since you only hear one side of the conversation.

And what makes it more confusing is that there are probably 3-4 people all talking together having many different conversations. So the things that you hear your son say will have no context to you.

But, as long as you understand it, you're in control and there is nothing to worry about.

Go and use this new language to communicate with your kids like a superpower.