Discord is an instant messaging platform to communicate in real-time by text, voice, or video. Referred to as “Skype for gamers,” Discord has become a popular destination for youth of all ages to chat and connect—especially when playing online games. According to a September 2022 report from Statista, Discord reached 300 million registered accounts with approximately 150 million users being active every month on the platform. Users can communicate through video calls, voice calls, and text messages in private chats or as part of “servers,” which are basically groups organized into specific topic-based channels where users can connect with one another and develop their own community.
Youth can experience various forms of malicious online attacks.
- If youth click on a fake link in a private chat or server, their IP address can be stolen—potentially revealing your home address or current location to complete strangers.
- “Doxxing” is publishing private or identifying information about someone.
- “Swatting” is the act of prank calling emergency services to lie about a person, indicating they are a danger to themselves and/or others (such as having a weapon or planning an attack). This is extremely dangerous and it has even proven fatal on occasion for unsuspecting victims because emergency services will treat the situation as a real and serious threat.
There are several reports of online sexual exploitation of children that have been linked to Discord.
- Children communicating with someone they have never met before can become an easy target.
- Predators can begin by chatting innocently with youth on child-friendly servers, start gaining children’s trust and establishing a friendship, and then suggest moving their conversations to a more private place—whether that’s still on Discord or another messaging app like Kik or WhatsApp.
- Predators know how to manipulate people. Beware of strangers using personal questions (for example, asking “What’s your favorite band?” and responding “That’s mine too!”) in order to appear as if they share common interests and like similar things as children.
While some Discord servers are designated as 18+, the platform does not moderate content and younger users can still request to join servers for 18+ adults without any age verification process.
- Exiting or leaving a server does not remove any text a user has written.
- Servers are never deleted so anyone can type into these servers or group chats, exit out of them to hide the fact they have visited the server, and later return to that server to continue chatting.
If your child uses Discord, make sure they create a safe and strong username that does not reveal personal, identifying information such as their first and last name. We also recommend having discussions about avoiding inappropriate content and only chatting on servers that parents dem appropriate. Under Discord’s Support Center, there’s a helpful article titled Discord Safety: Safe Messaging that provides instructions on how to keep Direct Messages (DMs) clean and prevent unwanted users from connecting with children. Safe Direct Messaging offers 3 simple option settings: 1) Keep me safe will have Discord scan images sent in DMs—even if the user is on the friend list; 2) My friends are nice will let Discord know to scan images sent in DMs from users that are not on the child’s friend list; 3) Do not scan will completely disable Discord’s image scanning process, which opens the possibility of potentially inappropriate content being shared in DMs.
Want To Learn More?
For more information about Discord, check out Common Sense Media’s Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Discord. In addition to the resources listed below, another helpful resource is an article on DefendYoungMinds.com that outlines a few important safeguard steps for parents to cover when talking about Discord.
UPDATE: In July 2023, Discord added a Family Center tool to enable parents/guardians to connect to their children’s Discord accounts in order to better understand how they use the app and monitor their behavior.