What Parents Should Know: What is Discord and Is It Safe?
**This blog post was updated on August 5, 2021**
Have you ever wondered, “Is Discord safe?” Maybe you’ve heard your kids talking about how fun it is or you’ve seen information about it online and been curious to learn more. What is Discord, exactly? The chatting platform is especially popular in the gaming community but its appeal has recently spread to a more mainstream audience. Like any app that enables strangers to message one another, Discord has its fair share of dangers, including inappropriate content and potential online predators. In this post, we take a look at what parents need to know about Discord and what to tell other parents when they ask, "what is Discord?" or "is Discord safe?"
So, What Is Discord?
Discord is a messaging platform that’s very similar to Slack. It features chatrooms, direct messaging, voice chat, and video calls. Users can join different “servers” and within each server are different “channels.” Think of these like chat rooms — they can be about anything, from huge public video game servers to small, private groups of friends. Discord is free to use, and there’s no limit to the amount of messaging users can do.
What Is Discord Used For?
Discord is a huge place for teens to hang out and talk about gaming, whether you’re actively holding a controller during a game of Fortnite or just shooting the breeze. As of 2021, Discord has over 140 million active monthly users. Some teens even use it as their preferred way to talk to their friends, more so than even texting (because you don’t need cell service to send messages). The platform has become so popular, in fact, that Samsung built it into its phones.
What is Discord Nitro?
Discord has grown quickly in recent years as a free-to-use platform. Nitro is a paid service that offers premium emojis and special features that are unique from free emojis. Unfortunately, many free-to-use platforms come with a hidden cost; these hidden costs are typically in the form of user data or in the form of micro-transactions or subscriptions. For Nitro, it is the latter; the subscription currently costs $9.99/month.
Is Discord Safe? Risks on the Platform
While Discord does have terms of service that aim to protect users from being harassed or bullied and a Trust and Safety team to help, there are still “adult” servers on Discord that contain graphic and sexual content. There are very few tools that prevent underage users from accessing them. While some servers will attempt to verify age, this feature isn’t actually built into Discord — it’s programmed by gamers themselves and used at their own discretion. All of this means that there are very few ways of preventing a child from joining a server that may be filled with explicit and adult content.
Another feature for families to watch out for is Discord’s direct messaging feature. If direct messages are enabled, any user can message another user, even if they don’t know each other. This opens a kid up to being solicited by strangers, potentially receiving explicit and inappropriate material. And since Discord is a platform where users publically reveal their interests, potential predators can use that information as an easy way to gain their trust. There are some controls that scan and delete explicit messages, but they can easily be disabled in the settings.
How to Block Discord with Bark
- From your dashboard, find your child’s profile.
- Select Settings.
- Choose Parental controls.
- Review the rule sets you’ve scheduled.
- Scroll down until you see Screen time rule sets and select the rule set currently applied.
- Toggle Discord to Blocked.
- Repeat these steps for any other screen time rule sets you’ve scheduled.
- You’re all set!
Help Protect Your Kids On Discord Text
One of the first steps a parent can take to help protect their kids on Discord is to set up parental controls. While these settings are important, they can’t account for everything. For additional support, parents should monitor their child’s online activities with Bark. Bark monitors text chat within Discord’s direct messages on Android and Amazon devices and alerts parents to potential issues, including cyberbullying, depression, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more. Our advanced technology doesn’t just search for keywords — it analyzes language in context that might indicate that something’s wrong.
So, what is Discord and is Discord safe? While it does have its fair share of issues, with the proper tools in place, those risks can be lessened significantly. In addition to Discord text, Bark monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for signs of digital dangers. for a free, one-week trail to help keep your kids safe both online and in real life.
Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.