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.


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

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Avatar
24 weeks ago
When it comes to getting around restrictions, kids are the best testers/hackers.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 weeks 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)
Avatar
24 weeks ago
Apple should hire kids to test.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 weeks 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)
Avatar
24 weeks 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)
Avatar
24 weeks ago
Did Apple lay off most of their testers after iOS12 was released?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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