What is Discord?
Launched in 2015, Discord is a digital space with millions of diverse communities. From small groups of old friends to huge servers with hundreds of thousands of people who connect over a shared interest. Discord isn’t a social media platform. There is no algorithm deciding what you should see, no endless scrolling, no news feed, no counting likes, no going viral. Instead, Discord is a place where everyone can be themselves and spend time with other people who share their interests. Conversations on Discord are driven only by the people you choose and the topics you pick.
Discord started by appealing to the gaming community. It offers a way for video game players to communicate with each other and develop a community outside of the games themselves. However, it has grown into a full social network with over 140 million active monthly users.
How does Discord work?
The platform works by using servers. These are set up with a particular focus or theme as a way for people to meet up online to discuss and exchange information. These servers offer both text channels, voice chat, and video chat.
Servers identified by a hashtag (#) are text channels, which are the most popular. Users share messages as well as images and GIFs.
Voice channels have a speaker icon next to them. When users join, they automatically hear ongoing conversations and can join in. Additionally, a chat function like those available in text channels lets users communicate in multiple ways at once.
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 behavior. They can also provide strict guidelines for filtering out explicit content and ensuring their moderators’ accounts are secure.
What is Discord Nitro?
Discord Nitro is a premium version of the platform. The subscription lets users customize their profiles, use a different avatar on each server, and use custom emojis anywhere. Users also have access to better-quality videos, upload sizes, and more. Nitro prices vary depending on what you want to be included.
What you need to use the platform
- A computer, tablet, or smartphone with an internet connection
- An email address to set up an account
Minimum age requirement
13 years and up unless local legislation mandates an older age. The Google Play Store has a “Teen” rating.
Discord’s privacy and security settings
Discord does not monitor every server or conversation. They do not sell your data or share it with third parties for advertising purposes.
They have added some safety measures, including:
- the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to detect abuse, scams and phishing
- dedicated moderators who help make the platform safe
- 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 color-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
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. 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:
Simply click on the name of the user you want to block and select ‘block’ at the bottom of the menu.
Why use Discord instead of another platform?
It can be a really powerful way for teens to discover other people with similar interests and to build a community. An online community can be a source of friendship, camaraderie, and belonging.
We know how difficult it can be to navigate our teen’s digital lives. To have safe, engaging, and positive experiences online, it’s important our teens understand how different platforms work, and how to use them appropriately.
Online safety is about more than just which app your teen uses. Making sure they are able to think critically about their behavior online, the content they encounter, and how they interact with others will go a long way in keeping them safe.
Here are a few tips on how to talk with your teen about online safety.
1. Let your teen know that the same rules apply online as offline.
- The same common sense and critical thinking they use offline should be used online, too. For example, only accept friend requests from people you know. If something doesn’t seem right, tell a trusted adult. Behavior that’s not okay at school is also not okay online.
- Review Discord’s Community Guidelines with your teen and help them understand what is and isn’t permissible on Discord.
- Review their privacy settings and the servers they belong to with them so they fully understand who can interact with them on Discord.
2. Talk about what content they see and share online
- Much of our teens’ lives take place online today, including romances.
- Sharing personal images online can have long-term consequences, and it’s important for teens to understand these consequences. Help them think about what it might feel like to have intimate photos of themselves forwarded to any number of peers by someone they thought they liked or trusted. Make them aware of the risk of sharing intimate pictures with anyone.
- Age-restricted content exists on Discord, as it does on many other online services. On Discord, users have to opt-in to see this content. Have a conversation with your teen about age-restricted content, what they may or may not be comfortable looking at, and whether they feel pressured to look at this content.
- Review your teen’s content filters on Discord. Have a discussion about who is on their friend’s list, who they’re messaging, and what information they are sharing about themselves.
3. Set limits on screen time
- Learn more about our suggestions on setting limits with teens here.
- iOS and Android operating systems offer parental controls that can help you manage your teen’s phone usage if needed. Apple and Microsoft offer similar controls for computers.
- If you are worried about how much time your teen spends online, set ground rules – for example, “no social media after 10 PM,” or “no phone at the dinner table.”
4. Try Discord for yourself
- Most of the services that your kids use online aren’t reserved for teens. You might find that you also enjoy using them, and might even find new and fun ways to communicate as a family.
- You will also understand how these apps work from the inside and will be more easily able to talk to your teens about staying safe online.
- You can download and create a Discord account right here.
- We suggest asking your teen to give you a tour of Discord using your new account! Some prompts you can use to get started are:
- Show me how to add you as a friend!
- Show me how to create a server together.
- Show me your favorite features.
- Show me how you stay in touch with your friends.
- Show me your favorite emojis or gifs.
5. Utilize third-party resources
Many online safety experts provide resources for parents to navigate their kids’ online lives.
ConnectSafely published their Parent’s Guide to Discord, which gives a holistic overview of how your teen uses Discord, our safety settings, and ways to start conversations with your teen about their safety.
To find more information from other organizations, please go directly to their websites:
- Connect Safely
- Common Sense Media
- Family Online Safety Institute
- Internet Matters
- Be Internet Awesome
Letting Antelope Recovery help inform your approach
Staying informed about your teenager’s online activities, including their use of platforms like Discord, is a crucial aspect of modern parenting. Understanding the potential risks and benefits of such platforms can help you maintain a healthy and open dialogue with your teen. At Antelope Recovery, we recognize the significance of effective communication within families. Our family therapy and parental counseling services are designed to assist you in navigating these important conversations, ensuring that your teen’s online experiences are as safe and positive as possible. If you have concerns or questions about your teenager’s online interactions, reach out to us for guidance. Together, we can empower your family to make informed decisions and create a safer digital environment for your teenager.