March 12, 2021
Parental Guidance
What is Discord and Should Parents Be Worried About Their Child’s Safety?

Discord is a fast-growing social media messaging app, where online communities with common interests come together and discuss various topics. Discord was specifically designed to serve the gaming community. The app, which offers text messaging and voice and video calling, allows gamers to communicate and strategize with friends mid-game. But it's lightweight and streamlined, so it won't fill up their computers' hard drives or bog down their processors. Users can also use the platform to share website links, videos and images. 

Who Can Use Discord? 

Discord has introduced an age restriction of 13+ to use their app, however they are yet to implement a system that officially verifies a user’s age. This means a child under 13 can declare they are >13 and easily enter the App. 

If a user is reported to be under the required age for app usage, they will be automatically blocked by Discord. 

Should I Be Worried About the Safety of Discord? 

Discord’s functionally means users can only chat with people that they have accepted, but the app does raise a few concerns for parents. While there are settings to help control who can send you friend requests, they aren’t set up to be restrictive by default or applied during account creation for younger users.  

While the typical use of Discord is safe and harmless, there have obviously been reports of harmless banter quickly turning into cases of cyberbullying or verbal assault. This is, unfortunately, quite a common issue in the gaming world and every day conversation. 

One to watch… Discord does contains NSFW chat rooms. This section of the app is designed for users over the age of 18. Here, there is a lot of sexual content shared and exchanged in the form of videos, images and messaging. To enter this area of the app, you do have to declare that you are over 18. Again, there is no system in place to verify the user's age, so it is likely that many underage kids are sneaking into this section. It is also plausible that the use of Discord could be putting inappropriate content in front of your child. This is a particular problem for teenager's who aren't honest about their age. 

On a positive note, Discord does a good job of hiding personal information. Users can not exchange details such as phone numbers or email addresses. These will automatically be erased.

Are There Any Blocking or Privacy Settings?

The options to block another user on Discord are quite limited.
- You can block messages from users outside of your accepted friend's list, as well as specific users.
- Your child can prevent a particular user from sending them direct messages (eg. if they have potentially exchanged messages that  have made them feel uncomfortable), however, reporting inappropriate actions are pretty basic. Only admin members can ban users from the site and stop users from contacting other specific users again in the future. 

Discord does have some privacy settings that can help reduce the risks of bullying and receiving friend requests from certain people. There are 3 options for receiving friend requests; you can choose from everyone, friends of friends or server members. Moreover, a user can choose to block all three and not receive any friend requests at all. 

Take the opportunity to discuss these options with your child. Encourage them to set up their privacy settings and discuss the benefits.  

User Settings >Privacy & Safety > Keep Me Safe

Is Discord Safe for Children?

This isn’t a yes or no answer - it’s all about context. One of the best ways to monitor a child's usage of Discord is to go through the privacy settings with them. You’ll learn together. Encourage that they only accept friend requests from people they know or want to cha with, so they’re not surprised with rude or explicit content. 

Discord does not offer any direct parental controls. All settings need to be changed by the user.

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Blog Article Author
Written by
Lisa Sloan
Blogger, togetherAI