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

(View all)
Avatar
11 months ago
When it comes to getting around restrictions, kids are the best testers/hackers.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 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)
Avatar
11 months ago
Apple should hire kids to test.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 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)
Avatar
11 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)
Avatar
11 months ago
Did Apple lay off most of their testers after iOS12 was released?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories: iOS 14 Feature Tour, 'iPhone 12 mini' Rumors, Apple Watch Band Controversy

Saturday September 26, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Things started to calm down a bit this week following last week's rush of media event, Apple Watch and iPad launches, and the release of iOS 14 and other operating updates. But that doesn't mean there wasn't still a lot of news, from digging deeper into iOS 14 to more iPhone 12 rumors to the uproar over trying to exchange band sizes on the new Apple Watch. On top of all of that, we heard...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

iOS 14: 'Phoenix 2' Space Shooter Delivers Playable Demo via App Clips

Saturday September 26, 2020 2:08 pm PDT by
One of the new features that arrived in iOS 14 is called App Clips. App Clips is described by Apple to be a "small part of your app" that can be available to users at just the right moment.App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds. Instead of requiring an App Store download, they can be loaded and run via...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...

Upcoming Xbox App Update Will Let Xbox Users Stream Games to iPhone and iPad

Friday September 25, 2020 11:58 am PDT by
Microsoft is testing a new version of its Xbox app that will let Xbox users play games remotely on their iPhones and iPads using streaming functionality. The new feature was rolled out to TestFlight users this morning. The Xbox streaming option is distinct from Microsoft's xCloud service, which it has been clashing with Apple over. xCloud is designed to stream games from Microsoft's servers, ...

Microsoft Internally Worked on a Mac OS X Aqua Inspired Windows XP Theme

Saturday September 26, 2020 10:51 am PDT by
Microsoft tested a Windows XP theme that closely resembled Mac OS X's Aqua GUI, reports The Verge. A recent Windows XP source code leak has revealed various unreleased themes that Microsoft developed in 2000, at a time when Microsoft was in heated competition with Apple regarding desktop operating systems. One of the themes, codenamed "Candy," mirrors the design of Apple's Aqua...

Video Offers Closer Look at Apple Face Mask

Friday September 25, 2020 5:25 am PDT by
YouTube channel Unbox Therapy has today shared a new video giving a closer look at Apple's reusable face masks for corporate and retail employees. Apple's own face mask was designed by the company's Engineering and Industrial Design teams amid the global health crisis for corporate and retail employees, and the boxes include Apple's famous "Designed by Apple in California" text. The...

iPhone 12 May Launch Earlier Than Usual in South Korea

Monday September 28, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 12 lineup may launch earlier than usual in South Korea, reports The Korea Herald. South Korean telecoms firms speaking to The Korea Herald have said that the iPhone 12 lineup will launch ahead of its usual schedule. Normally, the release of new iPhones in South Korea comes about one month after launch in the United States. Last year, the iPhone 11 arrived in South Korea ...

New Version of Microsoft Office Coming Next Year That Won't Require a Subscription

Thursday September 24, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Microsoft will next year offer a new perpetual release of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that doesn't require a subscription to use, according to the software giant (via Windows Central). "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021," said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange server,...

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...