As parents and educators, it can be difficult to stay informed about all of the social media apps that are being used by our children and students. In this blog series we are calling “Social Media 101 – What’s Out There?” we will provide you with an overview of some of the apps that our children and students are using most frequently. The more knowledge you have about an app, the easier it will be to engage in conversations with your children and students about it.
What is Discord?
Discord was launched in 2015 as a platform for people with similar interests to communicate and share with one another. Quickly, it became popular with gamers as a vehicle to interact during gameplay and hold discussions about their favorite games. Although it is still popular with gamers and even utilized by some K-12 school districts, colleges and universities, and professional esports programs, its use is not limited to the gaming community.
How does Discord work?
Users communicate with one another on Discord by joining different servers. There are private servers to which users have to be invited as well as public servers. Each server caters to a particular group or interest. Servers allow users to communicate via text, video, and voice chat.
Servers might include text channels where users communicate via text, images, and gifs. They might also include voice channels where users can interact with others via voice and video. Members of the server can simply click on the speaker icon to join a voice channel. Once they are in a voice channel, users can click the video icon to begin sharing video. They can also start video and voice calls with specific members on the server by choosing that user’s profile and starting a voice or video call with that person.
Who sets up the servers?
Any user can set up a server on Discord. The person who creates the server can set ground rules and expectations and often asks others to agree to abide by those rules and expectations when they first join the server. They can also set guidelines for filtering out explicit content and securing other users’ accounts.
How do users find servers?
Users can be invited to join servers or can find the links for public servers online. For private servers, users can invite others who have been added as their friends or with whom they have recently exchanged direct messages.
What are the benefits of using Discord?
Since Discord is centered around connecting people with similar interests, it can be beneficial for some children, especially if they have a hard time finding other people offline who share their interests.
What are some of the drawbacks of using Discord?
As is the case with all social media platforms, when children use Discord they might encounter inappropriate content, be harassed or bullied, or be exposed to people they don’t know in real life. Although there are ways to increase children’s safety and privacy, the sheer nature of the platform opens up the possibility of children encountering people or content that might be of concern to families. There are servers on Discord that are designated as 18+ because of their adult content. However, users can easily claim to be of age to access the content on those servers.
If my child uses Discord, what privacy settings can help to limit their exposure to inappropriate content or people with whom I do not want them to interact?
These privacy settings can help limit children’s exposure to inappropriate content or people with whom they should not interact. However, like with other platforms, these privacy settings only work if children keep them set in this manner.
- Safe Direct Messaging – Choose “Keep me safe” to scan direct messages from everyone and delete direct messages that contain explicit content.
- Block Direct Messages – Click on the server’s settings and deselect the Direct Messages option or go to Privacy & Safety and deselect “Allow direct messages from server members”.
- Message Requests – Disable the option to receive message requests from server members you may not know (this only applies if direct messaging is turned on).
- Friend Requests – Adjust your friend request privileges to limit who can add you as a friend.
Block and Report – Click the name of the user you want to block and select “Block” or report a user who’s posting harmful content by submitting a report to Discord’s support team.
Keeping up with the latest apps and privacy settings can be overwhelming even for those of us that research these things on the regular. As parents, the goal should be a general understanding and overview of the apps your children and their friends are using to stay connected. Google is your friend. A quick search of any app name combined with parental controls and the current year is a great way to learn more about recommendations when it comes to the safest settings for your children when using specific apps.
Below are some links to Discord parent guides to get you started.
Is there an app you would like us to highlight next? Drop us a comment to let us know.