Increased oversight: Discord tests new parental controls for teens


The logo of the social network application Discord on the screen of a phone.
Image Credits: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

New usernames aren’t the only change coming to the popular chat app Discord, now used by 150 million people every month. The company is also testing a suite of parental controls that would allow for increased oversight of Discord’s youngest users, TechCrunch has learned and Discord confirmed. In a live test running in Discord’s iOS app in the U.S., the company introduced a new “Family Center” feature, where parents will be able to configure tools that allow them to see the names and avatars of their teen’s recently added friends, the servers the teen has joined or participated in and the names and avatars of users they’ve directly messaged or engaged with in group chats.

However, Discord clarifies in an informational screen, parents will not be able to view the content of their teen’s messages or calls in order to respect their privacy.

This approach, which toes a fine line between the need for parental oversight and a minor’s right to privacy, is similar to how Snapchat implemented parental controls 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.

Users who are part of the Discord test will see the new Family Center hub linked under the app’s User Settings section, below the Privacy & Safety and Profiles sections. From here, parents are able to read an overview of the Family Center features and click a button to “Get Started” when they’re ready to set things up.

Image Credits: Discord screenshot via

Discord explains on this screen that it “built Family Center to provide you with more content on how your teen uses Discord so you can work together on building positive online behaviors.” It then details the various parental controls, which will allow them to see who their teen is chatting with and friending, and which servers they join and participate in.

Similar to TikTok, parents can scan a QR code provided by the teen to put the account under their supervision.

Image Credits: Discord screenshot via

The screenshots were discovered by app intelligence firm In addition, a handful of users had posted their own screenshots on Twitter when they encountered the new experience earlier this year, or had simply remarked on the feature when coming across it in the app.

We reached Discord for comment on the tests, showing them some screenshots from the test. The company confirmed the development but didn’t offer a firm commitment as to when or if the parent control feature would actually roll out.

“We’re always working to improve our platform and keep users safe, particularly our younger users,” a Discord spokesperson said. “We’ll let you know if and when something comes of this work,” they added.

The company declined to answer our questions about the reach of the tests, or whether it planned to offer the tools outside the U.S., among other things.

Image Credits: Discord screenshot via

Though Discord today is regularly used by a younger, Gen Z crowd, thanks to its roots in being a home for gamers, it’s often left out of the larger conversation around the harms to teens caused by social media use. Meanwhile, 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.

Hoping to get ahead of expected regulations, most major social media companies have since rolled out parental control features for their apps, if they didn’t already offer such tools. YouTube and Instagram announced plans for parental controls in 2021, and Instagram finally launched them in 2022 with other Meta apps to follow. Snapchat also rolled out parental controls in 2022. And TikTok, which already had parental controls before the congressional inquiries began, has been beefing them up in recent months.

But with the lack of regulation at the federal level, several U.S. states have begun their own laws around social media use, including new restrictions on social media apps in states like Utah and Montana, as well as broader legislation to protect minors, like California’s Age Appropriate Design Code Act, which goes into effect next year.

Discord, so far, 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. The nonprofit organization, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, even added Discord to its “Dirty Dozen List” over its failures to “adequately address the sexually exploitative content and activity on its platform,” it says.

The organization specifically calls out Discord’s lack of meaningful age verification technology, insufficient moderation, and inadequate safety settings.

Today, Discord offers its users access to an online safety center that guides users and parents on how to manage a safe Discord account or server, but it doesn’t go so far as to actually provide parents with tools to monitor their child’s use of the service or block them from joining servers or communicating with unknown persons. The new parental controls won’t address the latter two concerns, however, but they are at least an acknowledgment that some sort of parental controls are needed.

This is a shift from Discord’s earlier position on the matter, as the company told The Wall Street Journal in early 2021 its philosophy was to put users first, not their parents, and said it wasn’t planning on adding such a feature.

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo