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:
- Open Settings.
- Open Contacts.
- Select Default Account.
- 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.