If there’s a kid in your home, you’ve probably heard about Discord and you probably wonder “is Discord safe?”. It’s a chat app that’s popular among teenagers, especially those who play video games.
Even if your teenager doesn’t play video games, Discord has community boards for nearly any interest you can imagine. Plus, it has a robust set of chat tools for text, video, and voice messages.
With over 150M+ users, Discord is among some of the top social media apps. So let’s explore Discord to learn more about what is, how it works, and whether it’s safe for kids to use.
- What is Discord?
- Who can use Discord? Is there an age limit?
- How does Discord work?
– Discord servers
– Discord channels
– Discord direct messages (or private messages)
– Discord group direct messages
- Why do teenagers like Discord?
- Is Discord safe for kids?
- Which parental control app is best for monitoring Discord
What is Discord?
The short answer is that Discord is a free chat app for mobile and PC. But … there’s a little more to it than that.
Discord lets users chat via text, voice, or video in real-time (as do most chat apps). What’s special about Discord though is that it blends features from other apps. For example, it offers internet-calling features, like Skype. But it also has discussion boards, like those found on Reddit.
For this reason, Discord is highly popular in online gaming communities. In fact, that’s actually why Discord was created in the first place. It started out as a way to talk with other gamers during live game play. And gamers needed a way to chat with each other without impacting performance.
However, Discord has since grown into a popular networking website for all communities. It’s not just for the ones related to gaming. People use Discord servers to chat about anime, music, television, and more. Others use Discord just for its group chat features (also known as GDMs or group direct messages).
As well, according to Discord, they don’t sell user data nor do they share data with third-parties for advertising purposes. Instead, Discord earns revenue by offering a paid subscription service that unlocks additional features.
Who can use Discord? Is there an age limit?
According to Discord’s terms of service, users have to be at least 13 years old to join. However, upon sign-up, the age verification process is easy to get around. In other words, children and adults can lie about how old they are.
Discord is made up of user-generated content. This may include swearing, graphic language, inappropriate images, and so on are common. There are channels and servers labeled as “not safe for work” or NSFW which are only meant for users aged 18 and up. However, again, the age verification process is easy to click through.
How does Discord work? Is Discord safe?
This is where things get a bit technical. There are four major “parts” to Discord.
#1: Discord servers
Discord is made up of servers, which is a fancy word for “chat groups.” There are two types of servers: public and private.
Public servers are, as the name implies, open to the public. These servers host thousands of members as they chat about popular interests like movies, anime, and so on.
On the other hand, private servers are invite-only. These are the most common type of Discord server and most host about ten to fifteen users.
Regardless, all Discord conversations require an opt-in. Users have to join a server (whether it’s public or private) to access content and interact with other users.
This is what makes Discord unique from other social media apps. There aren’t any algorithms that deliver content to a user’s feed. Instead, individuals start servers and other individuals can choose to join those servers.
What else is interesting is that users can’t search Discord for servers. Users either have to be invited, or they have to discover servers through friends, social media, and so on.
#2: Discord channels
Discord is organized into servers. Those servers are then organized into channels. Channels can either be text or voice.
Text channels let users post messages, files, and images. Voice channels let users chat with each other through voice, video, or screen share. This is sometimes called “Go Live.”
#3: Discord direct messages (or private messages)
Like other chat apps, Discord has private message functionality. These are also called direct messages, or DMs for short.
DMs let users communicate with one another through voice, video, or text. Discord doesn’t monitor DMs, and they aren’t end-to-end encrypted. Users can send files, photos, voice messages, videos, and other content to one another via DMs.
#4: Discord group direct messages
Discord lets users engage in direct messages with up to nine other people at once. This is called a group direct message, group private message, or GDMs for short.
GDMs work the same way as DMs, but with more people. You can think of this like a group chat.
Why do teenagers like Discord?
There are several reasons teenagers like Discord. Mostly, it’s the fact that Discord is packed with tons of communication tools. This includes things like call, screen share, and video chat that other apps don’t offer for free.
As well, Discord is great at facilitating communication between people with overlapping interests. Not to mention, Discord has in-game overlay options for games like Fortnite.
This lets teenagers chat in real-time with their friends as they game together. Plus, they can talk without having to have a separate chat app open in the background. In other words, there’s less switching back and forth between a chat app and a video game.
Some teenagers use Discord as a place to be social with less pressure. In this way, Discord is a place to make friends and maintain friendships. This is particularly helpful for those with long-distance friendships. Or, for those who struggle with in-person socialization.
Is Discord safe for kids?
As is the case for all other social media apps, Discord has inappropriate content. There are also cases of catfishing, cyberbullying, grooming, and other predatory behavior occurring on Discord.
The good news is that in an effort to minimize these dangers, Discord has some control features. While these aren’t exactly Discord parental controls, they can help filter inappropriate content. Discord’s privacy and security settings let users restrict some functions like:
Filter direct messages
This feature lets users choose settings to filter direct messages for explicit content.
Keep Me Safe
When you choose this setting, Discord scans all of your direct messages.
My Friends Are Nice
This setting only scans direct messages from people other than your Discord friends.
Do Not Scan
Direct messages won’t be scanned for explicit content, regardless of who sends you a DM.
Friend request settings
Users can choose who can send them a friend request on Discord. There are three options.
Anyone on Discord can send you a friend request without limitation.
Friends of Friends
Only people who are friends with your friends can send you a request.
Only people who belong to servers you also belong to can send you a friend request.
Blocking and reporting
Users can also block direct messages, block users, report user behavior, and report inappropriate content. If you block a user, they can’t send you messages, and you won’t see their posts.
Discord has general community guidelines against inappropriate and hurtful behaviors. This includes hate speech, bullying, misinformation, harassment, and others.
Discord also has a team of volunteer moderators (called “mods”). Mods enforce community guidelines, delete inappropriate content, and ban users for inappropriate behavior.
Even though Discord has security features (unlike sites like Omegle), it’s important you talk with your child about what’s safe and what’s not. For example, just because Discord has privacy settings, this doesn’t mean your child will enable them. And even if your child has these settings on, this doesn’t guarantee your child won’t encounter inappropriate content or behavior.
If your child is younger than 13, Discord may not be the best app after all. In which case, we recommend apps designed for younger children like YouTube Kids.
Which parental control app is best for monitoring Discord?
Apps for Discord parental controls like MMGuardian monitor text content sent and received across your child’s Discord messages. MMGuardian analyzes text for signs of bullying, sexting, predatory behavior, suicidal thoughts, and other sensitive topics.
If MMGuardian finds sensitive texts, you receive an automatic safety alert (if you have alerts enabled). You can then talk with your child or take action you find appropriate.
Parents can try MMGuardian Discord parental controls for free for 14 days. MMGuarian works across Android and iOS devices (like iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch), even if you have a different device than your child.
Final thoughts on Discord
Discord is a great place for children to explore their interests and discover new ones. Since Discord isn’t just for gaming anymore, kids and teenagers can discuss topics like playing music, camping, bike riding, or any other hobby.
Plus, kids can socialize and chat with friends as they play games together. Overall, this can have a positive impact on children as long as parents keep a careful eye out. So here’s a quick summary of what you should know about Discord as a parent:
- Discord is a social media platform that lets users chat via text, video, and voice in private and public channels
- Although Discord is only meant for users age 13 years and up, its age verification process is easy to bypass
- Kids may be exposed to inappropriate content even if they have safety settings enabled
MMGuardian makes it easy for parents to protect their children and teenagers online. Sign up for a free 14-day trial now to stay in the know about your child’s safety. Now you don’t have to wonder “is Discord safe?”
Explore MMGuardian’s features as an android parental control app and as a parental control app for iPhone.