Discord app safety – What parents need to know | Internet Matters

Discord app safety – What parents need to know

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Is the Discord platform safe? With the correct privacy and security settings, Discord can be used safely by kids. Please bear in mind, there are always risks when it comes to sites with online chat options.

Take a look below for what you need to know about Discord.

What is Discord?

Launched in 2015, Discord is a platform for people with similar interests to share and communicate. It is popular among the gaming community as it offers a way for video game players to communicate with each other and develop a community outside of the games themselves. However, since then, it has grown into a full social network with a wide range of ways to interact with over 140 million* active monthly users. It is no longer just popular among gamers.

*Source: Business of Apps

How Discord works

The platform works on the basis of servers. These are set up with a particular focus or emphasis as a way for people to congregate, discuss and exchange images, links and information. These servers offer both text and voice communication via a microphone on the device you use.

Users can be invited to servers or find links online to access them. The person who set up the server usually sets some ground rules about who it is for and the expected level of courtesy and etiquette. They can also provide strict guidelines for filtering out explicit content and ensuring their moderators’ accounts are secure.

What you need to use Discord

  • A computer, tablet or smartphone with internet connection
  • An email address to set up an account

What is the age rating?

13 years and up unless local legislation mandates an older age. However, Discord “updated its age rating to 17+ at Apple’s request.” Their website states they want to “help ensure minors are not exposed to content inappropriate for them.” However, we found that under-17s can still register and use the platform. The Google Play Store has a “Teen” rating.

Find out more about Game age ratings explained.

What are the privacy and security settings on Discord?

Discord’s latest Transparency Report reveals that 32.8% of users were subject to harassment on the platform, 11% were victims of cybercrime followed by 8.1% of graphic content, which encompasses content previously marked as “Not Safe for Work” (NSFW).

They have implemented some safety measures, including:

  • use of artificial intelligence (AI) to detect abuse, scams, and phishing
  • dedicated moderators who are a key part of making the platform safe and who “respond meaningfully to an increased number of reports while maintaining proactive efforts to keep the highest-harm actors off the platform”
  • blocking and reporting features

Discord offers the following privacy and security features you can enable:

Filter inappropriate content out of direct messages

Safe Direct Messaging offers a traffic-light colour-coded system to determine whether messages should be checked for inappropriate content. This can be found in the Privacy & Safety menu:

  • Keep me safe
    (Scan direct message from everyone)
  • My friends are nice
    (Scan direct messages from everyone unless they are a friend)
  • Do not scan
    (Direct messages will not be scanned for explicit content)

Find out more at Discord Parental controls

Report something

If you see anything suspicious or simply want to report a user, you can submit a request.

Block direct messages

You can block direct messages (DM) from other members by individual server. Click on the server’s settings and deselect the ‘Direct Messages’ option:

 

Alternatively, go to the account’s Privacy & Safety menu and deselect ‘Allow direct messages from server members’, which can be applied to all servers:

Choose who can add you as a friend

You can adjust friend request privileges by who can add you as a friend from the Privacy & Safety menu:

Find out more at Discord Parental controls.

Block users

Simply click on the name of the user you want to block and select ‘block’ at the bottom of the menu.

Find out more at Discord Parental controls.

What are the benefits of Discord?

It can be a really powerful way for children of an appropriate age to discover other people with similar interests and build a community. This may be from playing a video game, but it can also be any other interests, such as playing an instrument, a favourite artist or a favourite author.

Take the time to check in with them to make sure you are across who they are chatting to and always encourage them to keep conversations positive and appropriate. It can also give you an opportunity to equip them with the tools to deal with any risky situations that they may face online.

Please note: You can also use certain privacy and security tools on your mobile device or computer to further limit interactions and location-based information. Check out our parental controls for more info.

What to watch out for on the Discord

The platform is not suitable for very young children

Discord contains adult content and must be labelled as only accessible to those over 18 years old. Anyone that opens the channel will see a warning message letting them know that it might contain graphic content and asking them to confirm that they are over 18. Servers that contain adult material but are not labelled should be reported.

Most conversations are private and allow live video and location tracking (strictly opt-in)

The conversations in Discord are private to the group so it’s less open and visible than other social networks. Along with this, you can type, talk, listen and watch live videos of other users. There is also a ‘Nearby’ feature that allows you to add friends who have the location features on their device turned on that are physically nearby.

Is Discord safe for your child?

It is a beneficial way to connect with other people if they are the right age to use it and have the proper support and context from parents and carers. Children of all ages are likely to encounter risks on the platform but younger children should use social apps or platforms that are designed specifically for them, like YouTube Kids and PopJam.

Latest updates

  • App Discovery – In November 2021, Discord announced that in 2022, users will be able to explore and discover community-built apps. This will only apply to verified apps and refer to bots that users apply to their servers.
  • Stage Channel – Discord released Stage Channels, which are available to community servers. They allow a focussed conversation between select individuals to an audience of listeners. They are advertised as being useful for interviews, book clubs, karaoke, etc. Almost a million communities have run a Stage since the release in March 2021. The additional feature of Stage Discovery that allowed users to showcase events has been discontinued as of October 2021, though this move may not be permanent.
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