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How to set up Discord parental controls

There's firm balance between privacy and safety.
By
January 12, 2024

Discord is enormously popular for group chats — it’s the spiritual successor to mIRC — but being group-based, it’s inherently a wild frontier. Even well-meaning teens can find themselves over their heads, and in extreme cases, exposed to crime or far-right ideologies. If you’re worried about this, Discord’s parental controls are available to set up some safeguards.

QUICK ANSWER

To set up Discord parental controls:

  • Ask your teen to open the Discord mobile app, tap their profile icon, then choose Settings > Family Center.
  • Ask them to generate a QR code under the Connect with Parent option.
  • On your own phone, tap your profile icon and then got Settings > Family Center.
  • Select Connect with Teen and scan your teen's QR code.
  • Once the link is accepted, you'll see data appear in Family Center.

JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Discord Family Center: What is it, and how does it work?

The Family Center is an opt-in component that lets parents or guardians keep tabs on a teen’s Discord activity without exercising a heavy hand (young kids really, really shouldn’t be on Discord).

When Family Center is on you’ll be able to see a teen’s activity during the last 7 days, including new friends, which people they’re talking to, and which servers they’re involved in. This can be viewed through either an in-app dashboard or as part of a weekly summary email, though the latter is mostly focused on stats rather than specifics. You’ll have to click through to get more data.

What you can’t access is the content of conversations, whether in calls or text chats. That would be difficult for Discord to collect en masse anyway, but more importantly this policy preserves privacy — like anyone, teens need some headspace to develop their own identities, and overzealous parental control can backfire.

Both you and a teen have to complete Family Center setup. Once the feature is active, more parents and guardians can be added as needed as long as both they and the teen consent. You’ll be notified whenever someone new connects with your teen.

How to set up parental controls on Discord

By design Family Center setup is relatively uncomplicated, though you and your teen will need the Discord mobile app for Android or iOS. You’ll also need to be in the same room, since there’s a short time limit involved.

  • Ask your teen to open the Discord mobile app, tap their profile icon, and then go to Settings > Family Center.
  • They should then generate a QR code under the Connect with Parent option.
  • On your own phone, tap your profile icon and then Settings > Family Center.
  • Select Connect with Teen, then scan your teen’s QR code using your camera.
  • Once the link is accepted, you’ll see data appear in Family Center.

Optionally you can go a step further and manage DM (direct message) and message request settings, but only if you have physical access to your teen’s phone, and even then they can reverse those settings at will. Here’s how it works:

  • Open the Discord mobile app on your teen’s phone.
  • Tap their profile icon, then go to Settings > Privacy and Safety.
  • Under Explicit Image Filter, choose Filter all direct messages, Filter direct messages from non-friends, or Do not filter direct messages. The second one is the default, and usually good enough.
  • Under DM Spam Filter, choose either Filter all direct messages or Filter direct messages from non-friends.
  • Under Message Requests, decide whether to toggle Enable message requests from server members you may not know. This should probably be left on, since it’s otherwise difficult for someone to have private conversations with friends.
  • Under Discovery Permissions, toggle off Phone Number and Email unless one of those is the only way for your teen to connect with people they know.