Is Discord Safe?: How to Keep Teens Safe on Discord

Kid playing on the computer while shielded from internet misuse
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Is Discord Safe For Teens? - A Summary

Discord is a popular social platform with over 150 million users. On Discord, anyone can start a community through the use of “servers.” The platform gives users the ability to customize their social experience by choosing which servers to join or by creating their own.

While Discord tries to be proactive about its users’ safety, issues can still slip through the cracks. Teens might run into mature or explicit content or be faced with spam, malware, and phishing scams.

When using Discord for the first time, make sure to fix your safety and privacy settings by following the steps below:

  1. Click on the “User Settings” button on the bottom left of your screen.
  2. Choose “Privacy & Safety” from the menu on the left.
  3. Under “Safe Direct Messaging,” click “Keep me safe.”
  4. Under “Server Privacy Defaults,” disable “Allow direct messages from server members.”
  5. Under “Who Can Add You as a Friend,” disable all three options (everyone, friends of friends, and server members).

For a more detailed discussion on Discord’s safety issues and tips on how to stay safe online, keep reading below.

Discord is a free, multi-purpose chat and video call app that first became popular among gaming communities. Discord can be safe, but it requires you to change your privacy settings and constantly be on the lookout for dangerous messages.

Much like on Facebook Messenger or Reddit, adults can join the platform, and they might expose teens to mature content, spam messages, or phishing messages. While Discord primarily caters to teenagers and young adults, younger kids can still attempt to create an account.

There are several things you can do to help keep your kids (or yourself!) safe on Discord. We’ll discuss the possible risks and give you tips on how to improve your kids’ Discord security. Are you not familiar with Discord yet? No worries. You can find a quick explanation of this app and how it works here.

Is Discord Safe for Teens?

Discord can be a safe place for teens, depending on the communities and servers they find themselves in. Discord aims to provide a space where people can come together and celebrate their shared interests, whether it’s learning how to code or looking at memes. With Discord, anyone can create a community, and communities can be about anything.

However, this freedom comes with several security issues, especially where children are concerned. Like other community-oriented social platforms, there’s no avoiding the existence of adult content, as well as spam and phishing messages.

For the most part, it’s up to the users to avoid this content, but Discord does have measures in place to protect users. The platform makes its community guidelines publicly available. Most server rules echo these guidelines, as they’re required to comply with Discord’s rules. There are also built-in privacy and security settings on Discord, which somewhat increases your teen’s security.

Discord age rating: Chat app best for kids 13+

Circle with Age 13+Discord requires its users to be at least 13 years of age when they sign up for the platform. It’s interesting to note that its apps actually have different ratings: Apple Play Store lists Discord as 17+ while Google Play Store rates it as suitable for “Teens.”

Although servers are hosted on Discord, the company doesn’t normally pay attention to the contents of a server unless they break Discord’s terms of service.

Many servers will ban users under the age of 13 in order to avoid getting in trouble with Discord. However, younger children may get past these restrictions simply by lying about their age. Smaller servers or servers with poor moderation aren’t likely to notice younger users.

We don’t recommend allowing children below 13 to join servers on Discord. Discord servers can contain mature or inappropriate content, such as porn, pirated media, or hate speech.

Mature and inappropriate content on Discord

Mature and inappropriate content can be encountered anywhere on Discord, and there’s no real way to completely protect your child from running into it. For instance, a public server they’re in may have members casually discussing violence, uploading NSFW artwork, sending lewd emojis, or using bots that display mature images.

Discord allows NSFW (“Not Safe For Work”) content and servers on its platform. It has features in place that warn users of content meant for mature audiences. Below is a screenshot of the warning the app displays when a user clicks on a channel marked as NSFW.

Trying to Access Discord NSFW Channel Screenshot

There are other ways to keep potentially unsafe content hidden as well. On desktop, users can toggle “Mark as spoiler” when uploading a photo. On phone or tablet, you can do this by tapping and holding the photo. This will blur the photo temporarily once it is uploaded. To reveal the image, all a user needs to do is click on it. Unfortunately, this can be very tempting for many users, including teens, so this tactic isn’t enough to keep children from encountering harmful content.

Screenshot of an image uploaded and marked as spoiler on Discord

Spam and phishing messages on Discord

Unfortunately, phishing messages can be found plenty on Discord. Teenagers who want to purchase Discord Nitro are especially likely to fall victim to scams. Discord Nitro is the platform’s subscription model, providing users with quality-of-life improvements.

Scammers use promises of free Nitro subscriptions to lure victims. These scam messages often link to a fake site that asks for the user’s payment or account information. If a user fills in this information, they’re essentially handing their personal data and money over to cybercriminals.

Malicious accounts often spam users and servers with phishing links and messages like the one below, whether in public channels or direct messages.

Screenshot of a Discord phishing message luring you to click on a fake URL

Phishing links can be especially confusing since some servers do host legitimate giveaways of free Nitro. If users aren’t careful, they may mistake phishing links for a server-sponsored giveaway and end up compromising their account.

There are a few things you and your child can do to avoid falling for phishing scams on Discord:

  • Check the spelling. Fake giveaway messages and links tend to be ridden with grammatical errors and weird phrasing. For instance, a fake URL may have “” with an L instead of an I in “discord.”
  • Doublecheck who posted the message and link. If the user is an admin, mod, or server owner, it’s more likely the giveaway is legitimate. If it’s just a regular user, the chance of it being a scam is much higher. Even then, it can’t hurt to ask the moderators of a server whether or not the post was legitimate.

How to Change Your Discord Safety Settings

Discord’s privacy and safety settings aim to protect users from unwanted messages, dangerous links, and inappropriate content. Here’s how to access the privacy and safety settings on the Discord app:

  1. Click on the “User Settings” button, which should be on the bottom left of your screen. This button is to the right of the microphone and headphones icons.
  2. Screenshot of a Discord User Settings button highlighted and username hidden
  3. Choose “Privacy & Safety” from the menu on the left.
  4. Screenshot of Discord User Settings Menu Privacy and Safety option highlighted

Note that your child can easily change these settings any time they have access to their account. There is currently no way to lock these settings behind parental controls. We recommend talking to your teen and explaining why these security settings are important. That way, you can work together to create a safe experience, instead of working against each other.

Below are our recommended safety settings for kids on Discord. All of these can be found on the “Privacy & Safety Settings” page.

Privacy & Safety SettingsRecommended OptionDescription
Safe direct messagingKeep me safeDiscord automatically scans and deletes direct messages containing explicit media content (such as images and videos).
Allow direct messages from server membersOffServer members who aren’t your friends can’t send you messages. This setting only applies to future servers you join. It doesn’t retroactively change the settings to existing servers.
Allow access to NSFW servers on iOSOffThis setting disallows users to join NSFW servers on their iOS devices.
Who can add you as a friendOff (for Everyone, Friends of Friends, and Server Members)This setting disallows people you don’t know from adding you on Discord. By turning this off for all three options, users can now only add friends by asking for their username. You can find clear instructions on how to change this setting down below.

How to Keep Your Teens Safe on Discord

Besides changing privacy and security settings, there’s not a lot a user can do to protect themselves on Discord. Staying vigilant is of utmost importance, so kids and teens don’t run into dangerous people or harmful content. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

1. Stick to verified servers

Teens should join official or verified servers as much as possible. Most games host their communities on Discord. Your child can check the official websites for a Discord server invite link. Alternatively, they can find verified public servers by clicking the “Explore” button found below their server list.

Here are some popular verified Discord servers for popular games, activities, and communities:

2. Only join teen-appropriate servers

Whatever the topic, there’s sure to be a Discord server for it. However, finding safe, teen-appropriate communities may prove to be difficult. Here are some things to pay attention to when browsing for servers to join:

  • An active moderation team is essential in managing large servers and keeping members safe. If a server doesn’t seem to have any mods, it’s best to stay away.
  • A server’s rules will clue you in on the kind of community you’re joining. Each time your child joins a server, make sure they go through its set of rules. Does the server delete harmful messages and ban hateful members? Does it have an age restriction? (Users under 13 shouldn’t be allowed on any server.) Does it clearly state what happens to offending members? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then it’s a server worth considering.
  • After a few days, assess whether the server is a good space to be part of. Having a mod team and a set of rules isn’t enough. Rules should be implemented fairly and consistently, too. If offending users keep getting away with violating the rules or if a server always falls victim to phishing messages, that’s a sign that the server is not a safe place.

3. Monitor chat interactions

While teens don’t need as much supervision as younger children do, it’s still important to check in on them from time to time. Unfortunately, Discord doesn’t have any parental controls in place. The best thing parents can do is talk openly about internet safety with their kids.

You can also go through their Discord messages every now and then to scan for questionable content. It’s good practice to discuss this with your teens first, and perhaps go through the messages together while asking them for their experiences.

4. Report users who violate server rules

If you come across inappropriate messages, you can report a user to a server mod or admin. The rules may vary per server, but in general, a user can simply DM a mod or admin to let them know about the issue. Reporting offending users doesn’t just keep your child safe, it also keeps the community as a whole safer for all its members.

You can also block a user by following these steps:

  1. Right-click on a user’s profile photo (desktop) or tap on a user’s profile photo and then on the three dots in the right upper corner (smartphone). This will work whether you’re in a server with them or in DMs.
  2. Click on “Block.”
  3. A pop-up asking if you’re sure about this action will appear. Click the red “Block” button to confirm.

Popup confirmation window asking are you sure you want to block a user on Discord screenshot

5. Filter friend requests

As a general rule, teens should not accept friend requests from people they don’t know well. Discord friends can DM you any time. Since DMs don’t have the added security of being moderated by others, they’re more likely to be populated by inappropriate content.

Discord has built-in settings that limit who can send you requests. Here’s how to adjust these settings:

  1. Click on the “User Settings” button on the bottom left of your screen. This button is right beside the microphone and headphones icons.
  2. Screenshot of a Discord User Settings button highlighted and username hidden
  3. Choose “Privacy & Safety” from the menu on the left.
  4. Screenshot of Discord User Settings Menu Privacy and Safety option highlighted
  5. Scroll down to “Who Can Add You as a Friend.” Toggle the settings off for “Everyone,” “Friends of Friends,” and “Server members.”
  6. Discord User Settings Menu Privacy and Safety section Who can add you as a friend screenshot

6. Don’t reveal personal information or connect Discord to social media

When it comes to staying safe online, a rule of thumb is to never reveal personally identifiable information, such as your name, email address, passwords, social media handles, mobile and phone numbers, and home address.

In the same vein, your teens should avoid connecting their Discord account to any of their social media, as this information could appear in their Discord profiles. People can use their social media accounts to figure out your teen’s personal information, potentially putting them in harm’s way.

To adjust third-party connection settings, including links to their socials, simply follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “User Settings” button on the bottom left of your screen.
  2. Choose “Connections” from the menu on the left.
  3. To delete an existing connection, click on the “X” button next to the corresponding social media handle.
  4. Make sure to disable the option “Automatically detect accounts from other platforms on this computer.”

Discord third-party Steam connection Display on profile option off

What is Discord?

Discord LogoDiscord is a platform with three main features: instant messaging, voice calls, and video chat. In other words: it allows members to talk to each other via typed messages or through live calls. Parents who use Slack, the popular business communication platform, may find the interface familiar.

Discord is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and as a web app. All of its features are free, with certain limits:

  • You can only send files up to 8 MB.
  • Messages can only be up to 2,000 characters long.
  • You can only be part of up to 100 servers at a time.

These free features are already more than enough for casual users. However, you can also subscribe to Discord Nitro or Discord Nitro Classic, both of which enhance the user experience in different ways, such as allowing for bigger upload sizes or better video streaming.

What is a Discord server?

In order to chat with others, you first need to join a “server.” A server is an exclusive space (think a private Facebook group) that requires you to have an invite link before you can join. Within each server are different channels where people can chat or conduct calls.

A server might be dedicated to a specific game (like Minecraft, Roblox, or Genshin Impact) or interest (such as writing, learning a new language, or coding). Servers can also be for a circle of friends or a large fanbase (Taylor Swift and K-pop acts like Blackpink have fan servers).

There are two different kinds of servers:

  • Private server: Your child might have created a server exclusive to their small circle of friends, or they could be invited to join an existing private server for their study group. These servers are small and not meant for the general public. Any Discord user can make a server, and servers can have as few as one member.
  • Public server: Your kid could also be part of a large public server, such as the official Minecraft or Roblox servers. A public server is its own self-governed community, complete with administrators, moderators, rules, and events.

By default, a server’s settings can only be changed by the owner of that server. In order to have the power to mute, kick, or ban a user from the server, users can be given the role of admin or mod.

Roles dictate a user’s ability to interact within each server. Each role has a set of permissions that can be enabled or disabled with the click of a button. Ideally, Discord’s public servers are moderated in such a way that regular members can’t add third-party additions like emojis or bots.

Screenshot of Edit Role - Admin Discord Role Permissions Section

What are Discord channels?

Servers are home to “channels” and “categories.” A channel is a room where people can send messages or hold voice conversations. Usually, public servers will set topics for each channel in order to keep discussions organized. An example of a channel is the “server-information” channel in the image below.

A category is a group of channels, such as all channels filed under “Information” in the image below.

Screenshot of a List of channels in a server on Discord

Currently, Discord offers two types of channels: text and voice.

  • Text channels are regular channels where people can send messages. Discord messages can include photos, videos, links, emojis, stickers, and more.
  • Voice channels let you talk to other users simply by connecting to that channel. Unlike on Skype or Zoom, you don’t need to start a call in order to talk to someone. Simply connecting to a voice channel already allows you to speak with whoever else is connected to that same channel.

In voice channels, users can choose to turn on their microphone and their webcam, or they can leave them off. As long as they’re connected to the channel, they can listen in on the conversation.

If your child ends up in an inappropriate conversation, they can easily disconnect from a voice channel with a click of a button. Normally, only mods and admins have the permissions to kick a user out of a voice channel.

How does private messaging work on Discord?

Users can communicate outside of servers as well, primarily through direct messages (DMs). You can also have voice and video calls with a specific user through the DM interface.

Depending on a user’s privacy settings, they can receive a DM from their friends or from complete strangers. By default, a user’s settings allow them to receive:

  1. a friend request from anyone
  2. direct messages from members of a server they’re part of

You can change these settings on your Privacy & Security settings page, the steps of which we’ve detailed earlier in this article.

What are Discord Student Hubs?

Discord Student Hub is a new feature with students as the primary audience. Discord describes this service as “a place for students to meet classmates from their school.” Student Hub works by allowing students to interact with people who share the same school email address (usually ending in “.edu”).

Screenshot of Call to action to Join Discord Student Hub

Currently, Discord Student Hubs are available for most schools in Australia. The feature is rolling out in colleges in Canada and the United States as well. Students from other countries can add their schools to the feature’s waitlist.

Discord does not officially partner with schools. Instead, they mention in their FAQ that Hubs are run entirely by students.

The guidelines for Hubs differ from Discord’s community guidelines. Additional regulations include:

  • No intellectual dishonesty.
  • Servers can not contain graphic or sexual content.
  • No usage of content that the user doesn’t have rights to use or share.
  • A moderating team is required of each server.

Discord Nitro vs. Discord Nitro Classic

The normal version of Discord is completely free to use. Discord Nitro is a paid version of the platform. Since Discord doesn’t serve ads of any kind, it relies on Nitro to fund its upkeep.

Nitro upgrades a user’s experience by providing quality-of-life improvements such as increased file size, extended character limits per message, and better screen share quality. Nitro Classic is a more affordable version of Nitro, with fewer upgrades.

For a full list of feature enhancements, see the table below.

FeatureDiscord (Free)Discord Nitro ClassicDiscord Nitro
PricingFree$4.99 a month or $49.99 a year$9.99 a month or $99.99 a year
Max. file upload size8MB50MB100MB
Screen share quality720p1080p and 60fps1080p and 4k 60fps
Character limit2,0002,0004,000
Number of servers you can join100100200
Style your profile with a custom tag, animated avatar, and exclusive Nitro badge
Boost servers to support your favorite communities30% off Server Boosts2 Free Server Boosts and 30% off future Boosts
Use custom and animated emoji anywhere
Use custom stickers anywhere and access 300 Nitro-exclusive stickers

What are Discord custom emojis, stickers, and bots?

On Discord, users can upload third-party or custom emojis and stickers. These are user-made images that can be used in messages, the same way as regular emojis or stickers are used.

While custom emojis and stickers aren’t harmful per se, NSFW artwork is commonly available on emoji-sharing websites like

Similarly, bots may contain, refer to, or link to explicit content. A Discord bot is an optional, third-party artificial intelligence (AI) you can add to your server. Some bots help with managing large servers, while others allow users to play games or listen to music together. For example, the “Carl-bot” in the screenshot below responds when a user asks for a photo of a dog: the bot recognizes the request and automatically sends a random dog picture.

Discord bot in action screenshot with a sleeping dog picture

The website shows a list of popular bots and their purposes. While many of the most downloaded bots are harmless, it’s also possible that a bot was created for malicious purposes, like spamming servers with phishing links. Recent studies have shown that malicious bots are being used to spread malware on Discord.

Depending on a server’s role permissions, mods and admins are the people who usually have the authority to invite or kick a bot.

More Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

Discord is a fun and free platform that encourages people to create servers and communities. However, as with all social networks, dangers can lurk if users aren’t careful. Teenagers on Discord may be exposed to mature media, phishing messages, spam, and other explicit content.

To stay safe online, teens are encouraged to change their privacy and security settings accordingly. We also recommend avoiding conversations with strangers, connecting social accounts to Discord, and only joining age-appropriate servers.

For more resources on keeping your teen safe on Discord, check out our Kids Online section and the articles below:

Is Discord Safe? How to Keep Teens Safe on Discord: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a pressing question about your teen’s online safety and privacy on Discord? Keep reading for answers to the most frequently asked questions about Discord safety.

Not at the moment. This means that any changes to your child’s Discord safety and privacy settings can be altered or reversed by your child. The best way to circumvent this is to talk to your child about why these settings should be put in place.

There’s no way to monitor your child’s activities on Discord unless you have access to their account and know their password. Discord currently has neither parental monitor nor parental control settings.

The best way to assure kids’ safety on Discord is to make sure their security settings are set to the highest level of protection. Here’s how to change an account’s privacy settings:

  1. Click on the “User Settings” button on the bottom left of your screen. This button is right beside the microphone and headphones icons.
  2. Choose “Privacy & Safety” from the menu on the left.

From there, you can adjust the settings based on the recommendations in our Discord safety article.

Discord is not a child-friendly social media platform. Adults can join servers and message them, and there are communities dedicated to adult interests. Discord itself allows NSFW content, which usually isn’t suited for children. We strongly advise against allowing children below 13 years to be on Discord. You can read our full article on Discord’s safety issues for more information.

News & Tech Editor
Nica is a news and tech editor at VPNOverview. She has an educational background in journalism and has worked in content marketing across several industries, including finance and cybersecurity.