Is your teen obsessed with Minecraft, Fortnite, Among Us, or any other gaming community? Then chances are they use Discord alongside their gaming. But should you be concerned? Is Discord safe?
Generally, Discord is safe, offering direct messages, voice channels, and video chat primarily used while playing video games. The social media platform has public and private servers accessed through friend requests and invitations. Parents and teens should establish rules and boundaries before use.
You may have heard or seen reports in the media warning parents about the risks of using Discord, like vulgar language, malware, cyberbullying, and online predators on the platform. As a parent, I had the same concerns. However, I realized that Discord can be made safe for teens with the proper settings. Here’s how we approached our son’s Discord app use to help you make your decisions easier and keep your child safer online.
Talking About How To Use Discord Safely
When our gamer teenager came asking to join a Discord server, my partner and I first talked openly with our kid to establish rules and boundaries. The most important thing is to have an open conversation about staying safe on Discord. Also, consider checking in with the teen regularly and watch out for signs of cyberbullying and hate speech.
Data thieves and predators can discuss one subject, like gaming, to create trust. Then, they slowly introduce new topics, eventually asking for private and sensitive information. We wanted to ensure our child knows how to identify what’s going on and how to handle the situation.
Above all else, we wanted to impress that our son should inform us immediately. You should then take a screenshot of the evidence and report it to the authorities and Discord. Other essential points to cover in your discussion include the following…
Talk to them about how to behave online.
The anonymity that comes with social media can tempt children to behave in a way they would not otherwise. Talk to them about the seriousness of sending inappropriate content and how to identify cyberbullying. If you have doubts about how they will act online, it is best not to use Discord. Let them stick to a more transparent application until they gain your trust.
Talk about family standards and expectations.
Remember that, unlike other social media apps, Discord is generally about how you use it. Set rules around which servers they can join: Servers by interest or only those with people they know? Who can they direct message? Make these rules clear so there won’t be a debate.
Discuss the app’s safety settings together
Follow the platform’s steps to a secure account to switch on direct message filtering and limit the people who can send messages. Tell your child why you are doing so, and keep in mind that Discord has no parental controls, and your child can change the user settings easily.
If they understand your reasoning, they will buy in without any problems.
Teach your child to be wary of any dubious invites
Predators can sneak in through server invites they did not request or have never heard of. They should be careful about accepting friend requests that they were not expecting.
It’s better to communicate in open channels on a server than through direct messages on the platform.
Have a plan for countering adult content or cyber bullying
Assure your adolescent that they will not be punished or lose access to the app if they report a concern. You want to be on their side, not leaving them to cope with the risks where unscrupulous predators or hackers might manipulate them.
- Review the reporting processes in Discord.
- Ascertain that they are aware of how to block users.
- Know how to save and retrieve their communication history (which they should share with you).
Check out your teen’s Discord usage regularly.
Ensure the safety features are enabled. Check all the public servers they are on and look at their direct messages and friends. Ask if anything has made them feel unsafe or uncomfortable on the platform.
Configuring Discord’s Settings
Discord has additional safety and privacy settings that allow you to control who can send direct messages or add you as a friend. The “Safe Direct Message” function can scan and delete explicit content or messages. The platform also allows you to decide whether it can collect and use your information for analytics for customization purposes. To view and change your privacy settings:
- Open the Settings menu by clicking on the gear icon in the bottom left next to your username and avatar.
- Select the “Privacy & Safety” tab on the left side of the window.
- Then, under “Safe Direct Messaging,” check the “Keep Me Safe” box. Enabling this feature will ensure that all content is scanned and filtered out if inappropriate or explicit.
In the same “Privacy & Safety” tab, move down to “Server Privacy Defaults.” Turn it off if you want to prevent others on a server from directly messaging your child. However, note that they will still be able to communicate publicly in voice and text rooms.
Also, a pop-up will appear asking if you want to block direct messages from people on a particular server. Select “No” or “Yes,” depending on your wants. Still, in the same “Privacy & Safety” tab, move down further to “Who Can Add You As A Friend.” Deselect all the options to prevent other users from instant messaging your child.
Privacy Concerns With Discord
Private messages on Discord are not end-to-end encrypted. Like any other online platform, breaches are always a possibility. Similarly, Discord’s safety and trust team can read private messages and messages sent in servers when investigating user reports.
The service is scrutinized because of various security holes and other extreme issues. They will be giving away their private data and attracting a lot of cyber criminals and bullies. They even drew an FBI investigation. So, if your teen must use Discord, let them use it with caution.
- Discord records your username, email address, and any images, messages, transient VOIP data, or other content you send via the chat feature.
- Your IP address and activity are logged from the beginning to the end anytime you are online.
- Aggregated Data can be sold to third parties or used internally for research.
- Discord collects data about your contacts if you link any social media app.
Monitoring Child’s Discord Use
One of the first steps I took as a parent to help protect my kid on Discord was to set up parental controls. While these settings are vital, they cannot account for everything. So, for additional support, I monitor his online activities with Bark.
Bark monitors text channels within Discord’s direct messages on Android devices and alerts you about potential issues, including depression, threats of violence, cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, and more.
The advanced technology doesn’t just search for keywords — it analyzes language in a context that might show that something’s not right. It also monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and over 30 social networks for signs of digital dangers.
And do not forget to let the teen know you are using Bark to monitor their online activity. Impress that this tool helps preserve their personal conversations by allowing the service to only flag what’s algorithmically concerning and not read all their communication on the platform.