Parents’ guide to getting started with Discord

By: Sarah Kimmel Werle

A parent and Discord user shares what parents need to know about this online community and messaging platform.

Full Transparency

Our editorial transparency tool uses blockchain technology to permanently log all changes made to official releases after publication. However, this post is not an official release and therefore not tracked. Visit our learn more for more information.

Learn more
Teen on phone

Your kids are just as likely to jump on Discord as they are to text a friend. This digital community is home to group chats for everything from class assignments to gaming strategies. And in 2023, Discord added parental controls to its social media platform—a big shift from its “user-first philosophy.”

If your kid uses Discord, you’ll need to create an account to use the new parental controls. It’s also essential to keep the conversation going offline about how to use Discord safely. Here’s a few tips to get you started.

What is Discord?

Discord is a free app that lets users create a or join an online community. It combines a chat room and an online forum, with the option to send direct messages, or chat via voice and video.

How does Discord work?

When you sign up for Discord, you can create your own community or “server,” add friends on Discord to join that server, or join a public server. A Discord server is the main community space where users can connect over a shared topic. Each server can have thousands of users focused on a topic like Marvel movies, or a specific game like Minecraft.

‘Be where your kid is sharing.’ By Sarah Kimmel Werle, Digital Parenting Coach And Family Tech Expert | Discord

How do people communicate in Discord?

Most Discord servers have several different channels within one server. These channels function like a chat room where the community can break off into more focused conversations.

For example, in the Family Tech server I started on Discord, there’s the main discussion, and there’s a “parenting tech” channel where people can ask specific parenting questions like, “Would you let your child play a Mature rated game?”

In addition to text, you can also communicate using the following:

Voice channels: A group voice call with the option to flip on your webcam to convert the voice call to a video call. Some voice chats are locked and available by invitation-only.

Direct messaging: Send and receive direct messages from anyone.

Live video: Livestreaming by other users, often integrating other streamers from YouTube or Twitch.

Parental safety features you need to know about

Discord applies its own restrictions to users under the age of 18. These include restrictions to block spam, inappropriate messages, or joining any servers labeled NSFW (Not Safe For Work). It’s essential that your child’s age is correctly listed on the app for these features to work. And parents should check out any server—even if it isn’t labeled NSFW—to make sure it’s appropriate.

How to engage as a parent

First, create your own account. Discord has some parental oversight through their Family Center. Once you add your child’s account to your own Discord account from the Family Center, it sends a notification to your child to approve the connection.

From the Family Center, you’ll want to check these controls.

Limit friend requests: Only allow friends of friends to send your child a friend request.

Check their messages: See who your child is messaging and how many voice calls they sent.

Check the servers they’re following: Periodically check in and see what servers they joined so you can make sure it’s appropriate.

Discord combines features from some of my favorite social media platforms. It’s a great way to find your people and talk about things you’re passionate about. I always say, “be where your kid is sharing”—so if your child wants to use Discord, create an account for yourself and see how it works. You may just find your new favorite social media platform.

It’s the first app for their first phone: Smart Family.

About the author:

Sarah Kimmel Werle is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their homes. She also gives quick tech tips daily on her Instagram account @FamilyTech.


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

Related Articles

Parent Using MyPlan To Add New Line For Kid’s First Phone
This is the year your kid is getting their first phone. See how adding their line with myPlan can help you save more on your monthly bill while keeping your top-tier benefits.
Child social gaming
Social gaming is the “mall of this generation,” where kids meet their friends online and play social games. Here, a gaming researcher shares what parents need to know about their next-gen gamers.