You might have heard of the media platform Discord if you have young gamers at home. The popular app is accessed through a computer or phone and allows people to communicate with each other while playing games like Fortnite, Roblox, and Among Us. Discord can also be overlaid directly into these games. Gamers can chat via text, voice, or even video. Unfortunately, the communication app is also a platform for pedophiles, sex traffickers, and hackers. Here, we will list ways to keep your children safe while using Discord.
How Discord works:
Discord is unique in that there is no news feed or central page. Users set up networks called servers. You must be invited to join a user’s server and use a code to enter. Codes for servers can also be found on the web if you know how to search for them. Once in the server, it is similar to a chat room in that everyone on that server can see and hear what is being communicated.
Discord is not just for gaming. People set up servers to discuss any variety of niche topics like:
- Pokemon Go games in their area
- Book clubs
- School classes
- An influencer hosting a group for fans
When used correctly, Discord can be a safe space for teens and kids to communicate with their friends. The private server of Discord keeps kids out of public chat rooms that are often built into games like Fortnite, Minecraft, etc.
What to watch out for:
The privacy afforded by Discord’s servers is often misused for illegal and immoral activity. Child pornography, white supremacy, and other criminal activity are rampant on Discord. People can easily lie about who they are, just like anywhere else on the internet.
Anyone can pose as a child, enter a child-friendly server group, and begin talking with your kids. This makes it very easy for predators to groom children when they pose as a child and get them to enter into private direct messages with them. Discord does not monitor direct messages, leaving your child vulnerable to inappropriate content being sent directly to them.
Discord, Inc. is still a private company. Although owners Jason Cintron and Stanislav Vishnevskiy have tried to crack down on illegal activity, it is still prevalent within the platform.
Cyberbullying is also frequent on the platform. The audio and video streams disappear after they are viewed and leave no evidence behind. This feature enables bad behavior and gives users protection to say and do things they wouldn’t do in person or if it was recordable.
What Parents can do to protect their kids on Discord:
Talk with your children about safety online. Set rules and boundaries for your children online and regularly check up on them to ensure they follow your rules.
Rules that I use with my children are:
Gaming must take place in a central location of the house. Fortunately for me, we have a playroom that is right off the kitchen. As my children have grown older, the playroom has transformed into the Gaming Room. The reason for this is that its proximity affords less secrecy. Gaming is not the time to be giving your children privacy, especially if they are young teens. Keeping the gaming action near the ears of other family members in the home will help to ensure that what is said or talked about while gaming can be overheard.
The next rule I regularly talk to my children about is the most basic and most important in dealing with any online forum: Never talk to someone online that you have not met in person. We all know this one and have talked with our children about it, yet all the time, children and young teens break this rule by talking to someone who appears to be just another kid like them. The danger is that anyone can appear to be just about anything online, and you can never know who you are talking to.
The last of my three rules for my children and gaming is to report inappropriate conversations to me immediately. This one is big because I need my children to trust me and not fear punishment in order for it to work. Make sure to have a conversation with them that whatever they report to you will be accepted with an open mind, and you will not overreact. You want your child to know that there are dangers online, and if or when they encounter them, they are safe to come to you about it. Ensure they know you will help them, not punish them.
Review Discord’s safety settings with your child:
You can find Discord’s Four Steps to a Super Safe Account on their website and implement them with your teen. However, Discord does not have parental controls, so your teen can change these settings anytime. Discuss with them why you are putting these settings in place and even put consequences in place should they be changed. Discord recommends that the minimum age for their program is 13 years old. Keep your younger children off of Discord and follow these safety tips before you allow them to use it.
Safety tools like MMGuardian:
Monitoring your children’s online lives requires technological skills that not all parents have. Reading articles like this and learning about the applications your children are using is vital, but thankfully, in this ever-changing world, there are tools to help parents protect their children.
One tool that helps with Discord is MMGuardian. This app will allow you to monitor your child’s messages on Discord. It also contains AI-powered Safety Alerts which will alert you to inappropriate and illegal content in messages right away. While we hope our children will report anything inappropriate to us, most teens don’t tell their parents everything that goes on. MMGuardian is like an insurance program to help parents monitor their child’s online activity and give them more peace of mind that their child is protected from online predators. For parents who want maximum protection and control, consider the MMGuardian Phone which has all of the parental controls (including Discord monitoring) built-in.
In conclusion, when used correctly and with certain safeguards, Discord can be a safe and fun place for your child to interact with friends. Put these safety measures in place and regularly talk with your child about their online activity to keep them protected and enjoying their gaming experience!