**Special note, due to the recent leak of classified information through Discord. Here is our thought:
From where we see it, all of this could’ve been leaked on just about any platform, and it simply happened to be on Discord. However, the relationships that were made through video calls and voice chats during the pandemic sounds as if it created a family-like bond that may have contributed to OG trusting or wanting to share these documents. That experience of video, voice, and frequent texting all with the same people on the same server across multiple devices, phones, gaming consoles, and computers is pretty exclusive to Discord.
What is the Discord App?
Description: The Discord App is free, and serves as the only cross-platform voice and text chat app of its kind, designed specifically for gamers. It was created to replace other video and voice chat apps by offering features that gamers love, particularly those playing massively multiplayer online games (MMO’s).
Discord allows users to create and join servers, channels, and chatrooms to interact with select groups of people based on something they have in common. Users can send direct messages to each other, which means conversations can be kept private. People and even businesses outside of the gaming community are finding this app useful and have started using it to replace apps like Zoom or Slack.
- Users can access the app on their PC, mobile device, or gaming console (voice chat only for Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5).
- In order to view content that is NSFW (not safe for work), users must confirm that they are 18 or older.
- Discord uses an AI Chatbot, known as Clyde. We will talk more about that later!
Category: Social Networking (which should tell you what they really emphasize – communicate!)
APP Store Rating:
- Apple: 17+ (infrequent/mild/mature suggestive themes, sexual content, profanity, etc.)
- Google Play: Teen
Does Discord have True Parental Controls?
Discord has recently updated its rules related to NSFW (not safe for work) content, according to an April 2021 article:
- No users between the ages of 13 and 17 will be able to join or view the content in NSFW servers.
- 18+ users attempting to join or access new NSFW servers on iOS will be required to opt-in to viewing NSFW content on desktop before being allowed into these spaces.
- Additionally, a subset of NSFW servers that are specifically focused on explicit pornographic content will be blocked entirely on iOS. Dedicated pornography servers are only available for iOS users aged 18+ on the desktop and web versions of Discord.
Therefore, using the correct birthday is the most important parental control when setting up the account. Discord makes it surprisingly difficult to change your birthday by submitting a support request, which we like!
What else do Parents need to Know about Discord?
It’s now a massively popular social media app. During the pandemic, Discord exploded to over 100M members and it now classifies itself in the app store as “social media.”
The app is fun for keeping groups in touch. Consider all the different circles of friends and associates each one of us has in life. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could all connect directly through one simple app? For gamers, this ability to speak with who they’re playing with is very important.
Privacy and Limits. Users who create servers or channels are able to limit who can join or message people within their group. The default setting, however, is no verification requirement at all. Most servers typically require an invitation or request to join, much like a private group on Facebook.
Reports of abuse have skyrocketed along with the user base. According to Discord’s transparency report from October – December 2022:
33,232 servers were removed from the platform, with more than half of the removals being related to Child Safety.
153,833 accounts were disabled for policy violations such as Regulated or Illegal Activities, Child Safety, and Exploitative & Unsolicited Content.
11,589 accounts were reported to NCMEC, as well as 69 additional “high-harm grooming or endangerment” reports.
Additional insights from the transparency report:
- 36 million accounts were disabled for spamming, this was down from last quarter (50 million).
- 37,102 accounts were disabled and 17,426 servers were removed for Child Safety violations.
Is there pornography on Discord?
The problem is that any digital environment that promotes secrecy or privacy to its users is always going to have a lot of inappropriate content, if you’re looking for it. See the note above about entire NSFW servers.
Users can intentionally create servers/groups in order to be private and at times, inappropriate with each other. Discord is now starting to moderate and review servers, but read this App Store quote from a parent:
“Our son was exposed to explicit sexual content, including videos, pictures, chats and video chats. There are also groups that are not gaming related and may have negative impacts on your children. Again, access to adult orientated topics. Many of the messages were from people seeking help, talking about suicide, doing drugs, cutting etc. I have no idea how old any of the other discord users are since I cannot view much detail in their profiles… I do not recommend this app for anyone who is not an adult.”
Discord is a mature environment. Please proceed with caution. If your child sees horrible content on Discord or anywhere else, we have specific steps that might help: My Kid is Caught Up in Porn or Sexting. Now What?
GIFs, emojis, and images are easy to share. The interaction with images that could be sexual in nature would stem from the user and the user’s connections, which are able to be limited.
Discord NITRO. This is a $9.99/month ($99.99/year) subscription that gives gamers extra perks, like a unique Discord tag (identifying number), animated avatar, higher quality screen share, larger file sharing, custom animated emojis and more.
NITRO Basic. As of October 2022, Discord launched NITRO Basic, which gives users some of the same perks as the normal NITRO. However, Basic costs only $2.99 a month.
Game Streaming. Users can stream games directly to the server they are on. The feature is called ‘Go Live’ and is an extension of their video chat and screen share feature that was introduced years ago.
Server Video. This drop-in, drop-out video chat is similar to Houseparty. Users can see when others are active in the server’s voice chat room, and can simply join as well as enable their video.
AutoMod. This is another AI feature within Discord, it can block content that breaks a server’s rules and can also summarize large streams of messages with “Conversation Summaries.” Discord said that OpenAI is not allowed to use Discord for data training purposes, and that Clyde can only access messages when interacted with directly. However, that guarantee was not made for AutoMod AI or the Conversation Summaries. While this sounds helpful and fun for Discord users, it could also be a major privacy concern…
Bottom Line: is Discord Safe?
It feels like a high school level app – the 17+ rating is accurate. There are always risks, especially when direct messaging options are available. This kind of app can also foster an environment of secrets, if users are not cautious. And whether you’re 14 or 40, there’s no such thing as a good digital secret.
If appropriate security measures are not taken when creating a group chat or the person is not discerning when joining a channel, there can be privacy risks. Conversations surrounding the reason for use and the types of chat rooms being used and accessed, as well as the types of servers your child would create, should be foundational when deciding if you let your teen use this app.
Now What? Have you Heard of Bark?
Are you interested in having greater insight into the social media platforms that your kids are using? Bark is one of the best platforms we’ve tested. If your kid is using social media, then they need Bark. We trust them and we think you should, too!
[Click here or the logo above to learn more – free to begin!]
*There may be affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!