Apple Working on Fix for Screen Time Communication Limits Workaround Exploited by Kids

Apple on Tuesday released iOS 13.3, a new update that includes Communication Limits for Screen Time, designed to allow parents to limit who can contact their children and who children can contact.

As it turns out, though, there's a bug in the feature that's allowing children to communicate with anyone who texts them.

ios13communicationlimits
As outlined by CNBC, Communication Limits is designed to prevent children from communicating with people not in their Contacts list (it can be set to Everyone or Contacts Only).

When an unknown number texts a child, there's an option to add that number to the list of Contacts, allowing the child to then text, call, and FaceTime that person even without parental permission.

This particular workaround only works when there is active Screen Time available. In the Downtime mode, when a child is not supposed to be using an iOS device, there is no option to add a number to the Contacts app.

CNBC says that children can also skirt the contact restrictions when there's available Screen Time by using an Apple Watch paired to an iPhone to call or text a phone number, regardless of whether that number is in the contacts list.

Apple told CNBC that a fix for this workaround is in the works, but parents can take the following steps to prevent children from exploiting the bug:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Open Contacts.
  3. Select Default Account.
  4. Change it to iCloud.

Forcing contacts to sync with ‌iCloud‌ apparently prevents the bug from occurring on devices that default to syncing contacts with Gmail or other services.

CNBC suggests Apple can address the bug by removing the "Add Contact" option when a child receives a text from a number that's not already in the address book, or Apple could require a PIN before allowing a contact to be saved.

Top Rated Comments

SeattleMoose Avatar
55 months ago
When it comes to getting around restrictions, kids are the best testers/hackers.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BarrettF77 Avatar
55 months ago
What is complicated about telling your QA folks to test new features? Don't defend laziness and repeated complacency. But seriously, the number of flaws in iOS 13 isn't about complexity, it's about accountability and there evidently isn't any at Apple anymore.

Most people on here I think are tired of the excuses and do better next time mentality that exists there. If it was free that's one thing, but we are talking about some of the most expensive products today and a premium over android. Not some off the shelf low end tech.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
meaning-matters Avatar
55 months ago
Apple should hire kids to test.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
covedrop Avatar
55 months ago

Wow, this REALLY makes me grateful that I didn’t raise crappy kids that would go to such an extent to purposefully disobey me.
Mine have always been grateful for the plethora of iDevices dad gives them & also... you know, are aware of the difference between right and wrong.
this is potentially the most obtuse comment I have ever seen
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
55 months ago
It should be pretty obvious to everyone by now that apple doesn't test jack before dumping it on to the public. Will this be the last guffaw they make? No. It's gunna keep happening forever just like it always has. Their QA system (if one exists at all) is obviously dysfunctional and broken
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adrianlondon Avatar
55 months ago
Did Apple lay off most of their testers after iOS12 was released?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 17

10 New Things Your iPhone Can Do in Next Week's iOS 17.4 Update

Friday March 1, 2024 1:30 am PST by
Apple will this month release iOS 17.4, its biggest iPhone software update of the year so far, featuring a number of features and changes that users have been anticipating for quite a while. Below, we've listed 10 new things that your iPhone will be able to do after you've installed the update, which is projected to arrive by March 7. When the day arrives, be sure to check Settings ➝...
Apple Maps vs Google Maps Feature

Apple Maps vs. Google Maps: Which Is Better?

Friday March 1, 2024 7:10 am PST by
Apple Maps has been providing navigational guidance to Apple users for almost 13 and a half years now, and much has changed about the app in that time. However, according to data from Canalys, the overwhelming majority of iPhones in the U.S. still have Google Maps downloaded as an alternative to Apple Maps, which comes preinstalled on all iPhones. We want to hear from MacRumors readers. Which do...
apple tv plus banner

Apple TV+ Gains Over 50 Movies for a Limited Time

Friday March 1, 2024 6:29 am PST by
Apple TV+ today gained over 50 movies, adding to its back catalog of content for a limited time. The collection includes a large number of popular and classic titles. Subscribers can access the movies in a "Great Movies on Apple TV+" section in the Apple TV app. Some titles are also available in 3D. Movies in the collection include: 21 Jump Street 300 American Sniper Argo ...
Apple Logo Spotlight

Source: Apple to Announce New Products This Week

Sunday March 3, 2024 11:38 am PST by
Apple plans to announce new products with press releases on its website this week, a proven source familiar with the matter told MacRumors. While the products that Apple plans to announce have not been disclosed, there are rumors about new iPads, Macs, and accessories. It is unclear exactly what will be announced this week. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman today reiterated that Apple is planning new...
iPad Air 12

Gurman: No Apple Event Planned for Upcoming iPads and Macs

Sunday March 3, 2024 5:09 am PST by
Apple does not plan to hold a traditional event to unveil new iPads and Macs, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Instead, he said Apple plans to announce the products on its website with a "series of online videos and marketing campaigns." If this plan is accurate, we can expect the new products to be announced with press releases on the Apple Newsroom website. Gurman expects Apple to...
airpods pro 2 pink

Apple Releases New Beta Firmware for AirPods Pro 2

Thursday February 29, 2024 11:41 am PST by
Apple today introduced a new beta firmware update for the AirPods Pro 2, both the USB-C and Lightning versions. The new firmware is version 6E188, up from the prior 6B34 firmware released in December. Apple does not often provide details or notes on what features might be included in the refreshed firmware, so it is unclear what's new. Note that this software is limited to developers at the...