Discord Is Finally Adding Parental Oversight

Discord is finally bringing some parental supervision to its teen-heavy locker room of a chat service, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the free messaging platform – which has long had a reputation as a Wild West for gamers – has grown to 150 million monthly active users since 2015. Two years ago, the company took steps to better police the site for child predators and block minors from seeing porn.

It stopped short of offering the kind of monitoring provided by competitors TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. But feedback from parents and digital-media experts led Discord to bring some new visibility to parents.

Parents can now see who their teens befriend, when they messaged friends, how many people they have called, the communities they have joined and other details. Discord isn’t meant to be used by kids under 13. Much like other social-media platforms, the company won’t share kids’ message content with parents.

“We decided not to expose message content because we want to give teens agency over their experience,” said Clint Smith, Discord’s chief legal officer, who oversees its trust and safety team.

The company also won’t offer time limits or other basic parental controls found on other platforms. (Parents can set these using built-in tools for iOS and Android.)

TechCrunch reported that Discord is introducing a new Family Center opt-in 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.

According to TechCrunch, 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.

“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 compete archive of activity and will only highlight activity occurring after your teen has accepted your connection request.”

WIRED reported that anyone 13 or older is allowed to sign up to Discord, and parents are right to be concerned about who their children are befriending…

As a parent, WIRED wrote, you will need to sign up for your own Discord account before you can start using Family Center. After you’ve created an account, consider talking with your child about the importance of online safety and why these security settings are important. For Family Center to work, both the parent’s and the child’s account must opt in.

Go to User Settings, and then choose Family Center. Here, your teen will need to share a time-sensitive QR code for you to scan and complete the activation process. QR codes can be regenerated, if multiple parents want to sign up for Family Center.

It seems to me that the problem I’m seeing is that Family Center must be opted into by both the teenager and the parent(s) on Discord in order for the parental/guardian involvement to work. As TechCrunch reported, Family Center will only highlight activity occurring after your teen has accepted your connection request.