While this chat tool was originally gaming-focused -- built for gamers, by gamers -- in 2020, the developers announced it was repositioning itself as place for communities involving other subject matter. Discord allows people to create a chat server and connect with a group of people. In addition to gaming fans, there are communities that focus on movies, music, and numerous other topics. Users can create a group for family members, fans of a TV show, or another subject, and appoint a moderator and administrator. There are desktop app versions of the platform for Windows and Macs, and iOS and Android apps are available for mobile devices. There's also a web browser version. Discord is free to use. You can also sign up for Discord Nitro -- the premium subscription tier ($9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year) offers benefits such as bigger upload size limits, HD video for streaming and screen-sharing, animated avatars, and custom emojis.
While Discord's intention to remain free and constantly improve its available functionalities is impressive, it's still a social network that's primarily meant for adults. Though the developers are committed to fostering a positive online space, there have been issues with abusive language and unkind behavior. Used wisely and sparingly, Discord may be a fit for teens. A closed network of people, for instance, would likely be a safer option than one of the public groups. With thoughtful limits set by parents and an ongoing dialogue about ways it would be acceptable to use the app, it could be used as a tool to help teens who are interested in gaming -- and other specific topics -- talk with their friends in real time. At least some guidance and supervision would likely be a good idea, though.