How to use Discord’s ‘Family Center’ to help protect your child

Emma McGowan 24 Jul 2023

In Discord's Family Center, parents can now monitor their children’s online activity to a certain extent, customizing supervision to fit their needs. 

If your children are using the popular messaging platform Discord to connect with friends while playing games, they aren’t alone. Discord now has about 154 million active users who are 13 years of age and older. This online community is definitely boosting social connection, but are your children connecting safely? 

While the majority of people on Discord are there with good intentions, as with all online platforms, predators do seem to find a way in. Where there is unsupervised communication, there will be cybercriminals seeking a way to get involved in that discourse, if you will. 

Say, for example, your child is in a group chat. Is the guy with the cool avatar really 14 years old, or is he 60? If you don’t know him in person, there may be no way to know for sure. 

While Discord didn’t offer parental controls at first, it now does. The popular communication platform has rolled out a new security tool that it is calling its "Family Center" — a place where parents and guardians can keep an eye on what their children are doing. Keep reading to find out what parents like you need to know, and how you can use this new safety control. 

What can my child do on Discord? 

To start, Discord users must be at least 13 years old. They can chat via text, audio, and video. The beauty of a platform like this is that you can chat in all these ways while playing games and doing other activities together (yet separate) in real time. This is a big draw for the gaming communities.

For example, does your child like chess? He could play games on while having on to chat with friends by audio or video. How cool is that? When you put your friends into check, you can now hear and see them sweat! 

How to set up Discord’s new ‘Family Center’ 

Discord has answered the need for greater protection with new security tools in its recently created Family Center. Parents can now monitor their children’s online activity to a certain extent, customizing this supervision to fit their needs. 

As a parent, you can start by signing up for your own account. You must opt in to the Family Center on both your account and your child’s account. To do so, choose “Family Center” in User Settings.  

Both you and your child will be required to complete this setup by logging on to the official Discord app. Then your child will be able to share a unique, time-sensitive QR code that you can scan to complete the activation process. 

You will then be able to see several data points that include the following: 

  • Your child’s friends in the form of names and avatars

  • Servers joined or participated in via names, icons, and member counts

  • Users messaged or called in direct or group chats through names, avatars, and the time of the last message or call. 

You also can receive a weekly email update that provides a recap of your child’s latest activities.  

What will you not be able to see? Your child’s actual conversations. Discord says that to protect your child’s privacy, parents will not be able to see the content of those messages or calls.  

Is Discord now completely safe? 

While these new safety features are a step in the right direction, the Family Center won’t be a silver bullet. Parents can’t see specifics like what is being said in messages, voice calls, and video chats; and knowing that information could be important if a child is, say, unknowingly communicating with a cyber predator. How will parents really know if a cybercriminal is on the other end of the conversation? 

As with any online app, in addition to being sure your security settings are in place, the most important thing is to have a conversation with your child about online safety. Children likely don’t realize how accessible they are when they log in online. Appropriately explaining the reach of the web with a few easy tech terms and examples can go a long way toward helping them understand the web’s wide reach. Perhaps give a few examples of when predators have communicated with children who didn’t know they were talking with an adult. 

The bottom line? Social media and other online platforms are here to stay. Have that safety conversation with your child. Gather and activate security tools like Discord’s Family Center. Set up software updates and any other security features that are at your disposal. The more defenses and walls you establish between your family and cybercriminals, the safer you’ll be. And of course, when in doubt, you can always opt out! 

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