What is the Discord Chat app?

  • Discord is a free voice, video, and text chat app for gamers
  • Users can access the app via their internet browser, PC, or mobile device
  • The app is designed for users age 13 and up to use in real time while playing games
  • Users come together on the app to discuss games, gameplay, and other game related content
  • The difference between Discord and other social networks is that users use the app to build private group chats
  • Users can join private groups they've been invited to or create their own private group chat server and invite their friends
  • One-on-one private messaging is also available on the app
  • Users can send videos, photos, text, music from Spotify, and GIFs through the app

Related: Take our free online parent webinar: "The Negative Impact of Student Social Media and Screen Time (for Parents)"

Why should parents care about the Discord Chat App?

  • Even though the Discord Chat app has built-in safety features, it's important for parents to be aware that the app can still be dangerous for students
  • Most groups are limited to 10 users but there are some servers on the app that host up to 120,000 members
  • Some parents have reported that users share their personal info with strangers
  • Mature and inappropriate content is common to find on the app
  • In order to view content that is NSFW (not safe for work), users must confirm that they are 18 or older. Since there is no age verification process, it is easy for younger students to access the NSFW content
  • Some parents claim that it's easy for students to hide private messages in Discord
  • Anyone can create a group chat server and some parents have reported that it can be easy for strangers to message students through the app

The Discord Chat App in the News

From what I've seen, users who wish to engage in harassment, raid servers, or bombard chats and users with child pornography suffer no lasting repercussions for doing so. -Gizmodo

Unlike Skype where to chat with people you firstly need to know their account, Discord creates servers that anyone can join. These chat groups are completely unmoderated and often have pornography and other inappropriate content. Risks include sexual content, sexual predators, offensive language, cyberbullying, and private messaging. -Family Zone

Discord, a free VoIP service designed for gaming communities, has had its chat servers abused to host malware. -Symantec

What parents say about Discord

Free Reign ADULT CONTENT - "I'm giving this app one star based on whether the app is age appropriate for my kids. We just discovered Discord on our 13 year old's phone. (he found a way to bypass our approval requirements). Though we regularly check his phone, we somehow overlooked Discord. While it may be a gaming app, it does have private chat features. 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. They also hop over to a connected app, SKOUT, which is equally concerning. I do not recommend this app for anyone who is not an adult."

Not for young teens or tweens - "The app or site itself is nothing more than a social media chat site, however, the content can be very persuasive to young teens, depending on the crowd they choose to chat with. As with any social app or site, there is no way to prove the person your kid is chatting with is actually another teen, adult, or online predator. My daughter used the site with Minecraft and most of the discussions did not center around gameplay, instead, it was focused on transgender and sexual topics - and she was easily influenced by these online friends. My advice - be very plugged into the content being discussed by your kids, not only on Discord, but all social media platforms. Young teens and tweens are easily influenced and these discussions could go against all the morals you are trying to instill within your children."