Discord group chat.
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

There’s an abundance of apps for group chats. Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, the list goes on. One app you may not have considered is Discord, and it just might be the perfect solution for your family or friends.

The Problem

The idea of using Discord for group chats came from my own family. We had a private Facebook group, a few Facebook Messenger chats, and—for some reason—Instagram became the main place we communicated. It basically worked, but there was a lot of room for improvement.

Facebook groups are nice for planning things, but it’s not a place for general conversation. Facebook Messenger is good for conversation, but it’s just one long thread. And Instagram chats, ironically, are terrible for sharing photos.

I’ve been using Discord with a group of friends for a couple of years, and I really like how it can be organized and used for different purposes. I decided to see how it would work for my family’s online communication.

Not Just for Gamers

Let’s get one thing out of the way before I dive in. If you’ve heard of Discord before, you might be thinking: “wait, isn’t that for gamers?” Gaming is part of Discord’s origin story, but you certainly don’t have to be a gamer to use it. I’m not a gamer, and my family isn’t into gaming either.

Think of Discord as a less business-y version of Slack or Microsoft Teams. It’s essentially an instant messaging app that allows for multiple “channels” of conversation. Typically, with apps like Facebook Messenger, you have one long conversation thread for everything, which can get messy.

I set my family up with five channels to get started: general conversation, events, photos, memes, and a private channel for me and my siblings. It’s nice to have a dedicated channel for planning get-togethers, a place to dump photos and videos we take, and, of course, you need somewhere to sh*tpost share funny stuff.

After inviting my family, it didn’t take long for them to figure it out. That’s another nice thing about Discord—it’s surprisingly very straightforward to use. If your family or friends can use an instant messaging app, they can use Discord. And it can evolve as you use it. Start with a few basic channels and adjust as needed.

RELATED: How to Invite People to a Discord Server (and Create Invite Links)

Your Own Private Social Network

Discord images.

I like to think of Discord as a house with a few rooms. You are free to casually move from room to room, drop in on a conversation, and just generally hang out in a passive way. It’s like having your own private social network.

You’re probably not being alerted every time your aunt posts on Facebook; you just pop in every once in a while to see what’s going on. That’s the same way you can use Discord. It doesn’t always need to demand your attention.

One of the best things about Discord is the notification controls. You can turn off notifications for specific channels or choose to only be notified if someone mentions you. For example, I don’t need an alert every time someone posts in the memes channel, but I do want to know if someone shares new photos.

Discord also has video and voice chat built-in, and it reflects the same “drop-in” nature as the rest of the app. You’re not alerted if people are doing a video chat, but you can see who’s in the chat and decide to drop in and join them.

Discord simply feels a lot more “open” than a typical group chat app. Since everything isn’t in one long thread, there’s less pressure for a message to be “important.” Maybe that silly meme isn’t funny enough to alert everyone in a big group chat, but if you can drop it in a channel specifically for memes, why not?

At the end of the day, the best group chat app is the one that makes people comfortable enough to actually chat. Discord might just be the solution to your group chat problems. Give it a try!

RELATED: How to Use Discord to Watch Movies with Friends

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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