DISCORD PARENT’S GUIDE: How to Keep Your Kids Safe
Updated: Jun 19, 2023
If your kids are starting to play computer games, it is possible that soon you’re going to hear about Discord. Here is some important information about Discord for you to know what kids are doing to play online.
Discord is a chat app. It’s quite popular within the gaming community, but it has gained popularity within other niches as well since many companies and schools have adopted the program for remote work and teaching.
Discord allows users to communicate over text, voice and/or video, through channels, groups, or private chats.
The app became popular among gamers for being a good meeting point option: it is possible to play online and talk to people on a Discord voice channel at the same time. In addition, there is the streaming option, which is when someone streams their computer screen live so that other people can see their game.
Another strength is the communities Discord forms. There are servers of the most varied themes, where users can discuss news, ask questions, give out advice and even find other players to play together.
How Discord works
To better understand how it works, we are first going to explain its structure. If your kids are on Discord, it is important to know the following details.
Server: Servers are spaces on Discord. They’re like cities in a country, created by specific communities or friend groups. According to Discord, most servers are small-sized and only for guests – in other words, they’re private and you need an authorization to be a part of them. Some servers are public. Any user can create a new server for free and invite their friends to be a part of it.
Channel: Servers are organized by voice and text channels. Many servers organize channels over specific topics and may have different rules. On text channels, users can post messages, upload files, and share messages with other users. On voice channels, users can connect through voice or video calls in real time, in addition to being able to stream their screen for their friends to see. It’s also possible to send private messages to other users and create private group chats with up to 10 participants, to which access is only by invitation. It’s also possible to create private channels with fewer users – in this case, only the participants of such a channel can see the messages posted there.
Is Discord for kids?
According to Discord’s Terms of Service, it requires that users are at least 13 years old to access the app or the website. This is done by date of birth confirmation during the registration that gives access to Discord. If the user is under 13 years of age, the account is blocked. Of course, many kids know this and type in another date of birth so that they can create an account, just like in many other websites and apps.
Discord takes some precautions to make their user’s experience safer, regardless of age:
As we explained, most Discord groups are private and only guests are allowed in.
All chats are optional; that is, each user chooses who can add them as a friend, who can send them messages and what kind of content they can receive.
Discord doesn’t share personal information, including contact information and private chats. The app doesn’t ask for a real name when you create an account and it doesn’t sell their users’ data to advertisers.
If your kid is younger than 13 and is already on Discord, be aware that this is not in accordance with the platform’s rules. Maybe you can both reach an agreement to migrate to another platform where kids are allowed, but we know this may be a challenging task. If they don’t budge and you decide not to forbid your kid from playing with their friends on Discord, you need to pay attention to the following issues:
Set to increase safety
Discord doesn’t have parental controls, but there are some settings that can make your kids safer there. In order to do that, open Discord and search the navigation menu for User Settings, which has a gear icon, and then click on Privacy and Security. There are many options there that you can either turn on or off. Here are some tips:
Safe and Direct Message: For underage users, it’s recommended that the option Keep me Safe is activated, so that it’s possible to analyze direct messages from everyone.
Who can friend you: Here it’s advised that only the option Friends of Friends, in order to have more control over who can add your kids as friends, but without trimming their friends circle completely. If you prefer that only server members are allowed to add your kids, that’s also possible, but remember: there are game servers with a lot of users. You may even choose to select none of these options. In this case, your kids won’t receive any friend requests, but they can still send them to other people.
Blocking other users: if there’s someone bothering your kids, it’s possible to block them. Blocking users prevents them from sending you messages and removes them from your friends list. In addition, it hides the messages sent by this person in any server you two have in common. To do that, you only need to right click on @username and select Block.
How to report issues on Discord
If you or your kids see hate messages, threats, or any act that goes against Discord’s rules, it’s possible to report it. In order to do that, you need to copy the message link. You can get this link by right clicking on the message, selecting the option “copy message link” and pasting the message over DM (Direct Message, when you send a message directly to Discord) or over the Discord server, both within the platform.
It’s also possible to send an email by filling out a form that describes what happened. Here, in the option What we can help you?, select the option Trust & Safety. We recommend attaching screenshots of the chat and saving all the message links. The message should be written in English.
Written by Luisa Scherer
Translated by Mariana Gruber
Discord was created for people over 13 years old. At this age, teenagers are mature enough to deal with subjects like bullying, they notice more easily when they’re being tricked and they are aware that anyone could be on the other side of the screen. Kids under 13 don’t have the necessary skills yet to notice some of these warnings.
Despite that, Discord is a great platform to play online with friends, and we know it’s one of kids and teenagers’ favorites. If your kids are younger than the minimum age and use it either way, it’s up to each parent to decide whether or not your kids are allowed to be on Discord. We believe it’s possible to keep kids on the platform so long as you’re very attentive.
Therefore, make sure your kids know all their Discord friends from real life or make sure that they’re all the same age. It’s also worth asking your kids if you can arrange to talk to their virtual friends’ parents one day, in order to ensure that the kids are, in fact, the same age and that all parents from “both sides” are on the same page.
If your kids are under 13, we suggest they don’t use headphones when they’re on Discord. It’s easier for you to be attentive this way and notice what is being said in the channels and servers they are a part of.
Keep an open and recurring dialogue over your kids’ games and the experiences on Discord. Talk to them, be interested in what they play. This makes it all easier when they need your help. Always mention some precautions they should take, such as not accepting friend requests from people they don’t know, asking for your help when they stumble across something unusual and this type of thing.
Remember that your kids and their friends can also create servers. We recommend reading this to learn how to create a safe Discord server.