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Discord

Discord is a free social media and chatting app that is popular with gamers, who use the platform to communicate whilst playing games. Many users enjoy chatting with and watching other gamers play and using the app to swap tips and share techniques.  Chats can be either one to one or in a group or game-specific ‘server’ (community or friend groups). Popular online games, such as Fortnite have their own official Discord channels, where fans can watch each other play and talk about the game.

With over 140 million users in more than 80 countries, Discord has become a popular platform for gamers around the world to come together. Whilst Discord is mostly associated with gamers, the platform is also used by others to chat and interact on a range of other topics, ranging from fashion to sport, with thousands of channels available.

Official age rating

Discord’s terms of service require users to be over 13, however it doesn’t have any vigorous age verification methods

Discord updated its age rating to 17+ in the Apple App Store at the request of Apple. Apple stated that the higher age rating was necessary to reflect the use of offensive language and realistic violence contained within some games used on the platform. However, Google Play still rate the content on Discord as ‘Teen’.  Despite the 17+ rating in the Apple store Discords terms of service allows users to sign up to the App if they are over 13.

Find out more about age ratings in our A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games.

How children and young people use the app

Discord sells itself as “a place that makes it easy to talk every day and hang out more often. It supports multiple forms of communication, including video calls, voice chat and text so users have numerous ways of getting in contact. It is particularly popular with young people who use it to connect with friends and share their experiences of their favourite games. The Discord community makes gaming more interactive and social for young people, especially for those who tend to play single player games or don’t have friends to play with in person.

Potential risks

Content

It is recommended that parents and carers acknowledge the older age rating of 17+ used by the Apple App Store. Users on the platform are often discussing games that have a higher age rating than 13 and users are therefore exposed to more mature content. If you choose to allow your child to use the Discord app, it is worth finding out which games they are discussing and explore the age rating of these games via the PEGI website. This would give a better indication of the kinds of gaming content users would be exposed to and discussing. As with other chatting apps, it is also possible your child may stumble across inappropriate content in the form of bad language within chats. By restricting who your child can access on the platform, your child is less likely to experience language or behaviour that is not suitable for their age.

Connecting with others

Within the Discord app, users can interact one to one or in group chats with either people they know or with strangers. It is recommended that young people only chat with people they know in the offline world. This will help to limit the likelihood of being exposed to inappropriate content. If your child is using the app in a public server (chat space within the game), it is advised that you supervise them in order to establish the types of engagements they are involved in. Speak to your child about the risks of chatting with strangers and explain the importance of not sharing any personal or identifiable information with other users within chats. Encourage them to tell you if they have been asked personal questions or to chat privately.

arty chatting apps like Discord to chat whilst gaming. Ask your child if they are using any additional chatting apps whilst playing and check who they are communicating with. It may be helpful to know that although chatting is an appealing part of gaming, it is not essential to play.

User behaviour

If your child has a Discord account, it is important for you and them to be aware of what they share and the impact this will have on their digital footprint. Have a conversation with them to help them understand what is and is not appropriate for them to share and encourage them to share with their friends only. Ensure your child knows it can be difficult to keep ownership of any content once it has been shared online, as content can easily be copied and reposted without their knowledge and can then become difficult to remove from the internet.

Design, data and costs

Discord can be hugely popular with young people who love gaming. Like gaming itself, watching others game and chatting to them about it can be immersive and absorbing for young people, so they may need boundaries to stop them engaging in extended hours of chat.


Tips for keeping your child safe

  • Whilst there is not one main privacy setting on Discord, there are some safety settings that can be used to manage privacy. This includes managing who can send friend requests to your child.

    To manage friend requests:

    • Open the app and select ‘Settings’ and choose ‘Privacy and safety’.
    • Toggle on or off the settings you would like your child to use. By default, all settings are set to everyone.
    • Options for ‘Who can add you as a friend’ are:
      • Everyone
      • Friends of Friends
      • Server Members
  • There are several in-app safety settings you can use to make Discord safer for your child. By default, Discord allows anyone to be able to send and receive direct messages.

    To set ‘Safe direct messaging’:

    • Open the app and select ‘Settings’ and choose ‘Privacy and safety’.
    • To allow Discord to scan messages for explicit content you can choose from either:
    • Keep me safe which scans direct messages from everyone
    • My friends are nice which scans direct messages from everyone unless they are a friend (default setting)
    • Do not scan which means direct messages will not be scanned for explicit content.
    • The changes will be applied immediately.

    If you would prefer for your child to not receive direct messages you can disable this function by:

    • Open the app and select ‘Settings’ and choose ‘Privacy and safety’.
    • Toggle ‘Allow direct messages from server members’ to off.
    • Note: this setting is applied when users join new servers and will not be applied to existing servers.
  • You can report and block users who may be bothering you or behaving inappropriately on the platform. Whilst it is easy to block a user, it is more complicated to report a user, as you need to submit a request to Discord with a link to the message, image or video you wish to report.

    To block a user:

    • Go to the user you wish to block by selecting the friend icon at the bottom.
    • Select their name and then tap the ‘Blocked’ option.

    To report a user or content:

    • Firstly, ensure you have saved all the relevant message IDs and/or user IDs, please note Discord do not accept screen shots as evidence for reporting. To find the message’s ID, right click on the message or user.
    • Select ‘Settings’ at the bottom right corner of the page.
    • Scroll to ‘App settings’ and tap ‘Appearance’.
    • Toggle developer mode to on.
    • Navigate to the message you would like to report and select the three dots.
    • Scroll down to ‘Report message’ and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the request.

    Alternately you can complete Discord’s online reporting form.

  • To help limit the pressure for young people to be online and respond to messages straight away, Discord has some settings to help manage usage. ‘Activity status’ tells other users when you are online with a small green dot next to the Discord icon.

    To disable ‘Activity status’:

    • Open the app and select ‘Settings’ at the bottom right corner of the page.
    • Scroll down and tap ‘Activity settings’ and toggle to off.

Key features and terminology

  • Server

    This is the user’s space where they hang out with friends. It is a designated virtual room for them and anyone they invite. Users can choose to set up servers for private groups ‘For me and my friends’ or for wider audiences ‘For a club or community’.

    Friends

    You can add friends via your phone contacts, using a user’s username and tag or via a nearby scan using your mobiles Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to find nearby friends.

    Direct messages

    Users can direct message each other in a private message. Users can also video call via their DMs (Direct Messages) or server’s voice channels.

    Channels

    This is where users can interact with each other via chat or video.

    NSFW

    This means ‘Not safe for work.’ This is used to refer to adult content on the platform. Discord have added an option for 18+ users to label their content as NSFW, meaning users will be shown a warning message before viewing the content.

    Stage Discovery

    This feature means users can easily find live audio conversations taking place on the platform

General tips

Discord has developed its own designated safety centre for users to find out more about ways to keep themselves safe when using the app.