Discord is introducing a new Family Center opt-in tool designed to make it easy for parents and guardians to learn more about who their teens are friends with and talk to on the platform, the company announced on Tuesday. The official rollout of the parental controls comes two months after Discord was seen testing the Family Center feature.
Family Center has two major components: an activity dashboard accessible from Discord at any time and a weekly email summary containing information about your teen’s activity. Although parents will be able to see which Discord communities and users their teens are talking to, they won’t be able to see the contents of the conversations themselves in order to protect their privacy.
To get started with Family Center, Discord requires both the parent and the teen to complete setup through the app. Discord notes that teen account activity is not shared in Family Center without their consent. Parents will have to ask their teens for a QR code easily generated in Family Center. Once the setup process is complete, the teen will be notified when a parent is connected.
“Once your teen has accepted your connection request, the Family Center will populate with details about their activity on Discord within the last seven days,” the company wrote in a blog post. “This includes the number of users they’ve messaged or called, the number of new friends they’ve added, and how many servers they’re actively participating in. Family Center won’t contain a complete archive of activity and will only highlight activity occurring after your teen has accepted your connection request.”
Discord’s new parental controls are similar to Snapchat’s parental controls, which it introduced in its app last year. Like Discord’s system, Snapchat only allows parents insights into who their teen is talking to and friending, not what they’ve typed or the media they’ve shared.
Although Discord is regularly used by a young audience, the platform is often left out of the larger conversation around the harms to teens caused by social media use. As execs from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap, YouTube and TikTok have had to testify before Congress on this topic, Discord has been able to sit on the sidelines.
Discord has flown under the radar, despite the warnings from child safety experts, law enforcement and the media about the dangers the app poses to minors, amid reports that groomers and sexual predators have been using the service to target children.
Today’s announcement shows a shift in Discord’s position around parental controls. The company told The Wall Street Journal in early 2021 it believed in putting users first, not their parents, and said it wasn’t planning on adding such a feature.