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
32 months ago
When it comes to getting around restrictions, kids are the best testers/hackers.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BarrettF77 Avatar
32 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
32 months ago
Apple should hire kids to test.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
covedrop Avatar
32 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
32 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
32 months ago
Did Apple lay off most of their testers after iOS12 was released?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPad Pro USB C Feature Coral

Deals: Apple's iPad Pro Reaches Up to $449 Off in Amazon's Latest Sales

Wednesday May 25, 2022 10:09 am PDT by
Amazon is marking down a wide variety of 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models this week, with prices starting as low as $749.00 for the 11-inch tablet. You'll find the full list of sales below, all of which can be found on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep...
apple account card

Wallet App Now Supports Apple Account Cards on iOS 15.5

Wednesday May 25, 2022 5:01 pm PDT by
Apple appears to have recently updated the Wallet app to allow users to add an Apple Account Card, which displays the Apple credit balance associated with an Apple ID. If you receive an App Store or Apple Store gift card, for example, it is added to an Apple Account that was previously visible in the App Store and Apple Store apps. As of today, the Apple Account balance can also be added to...
iphone 13 pro max display bleen

iPhone 14 Max Reportedly Weeks Behind Schedule [Updated]

Thursday May 26, 2022 7:25 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Max is currently behind schedule by around three weeks, according to Haitong International Securities analyst Jeff Pu. Yesterday, Nikkei Asia reported that at least one iPhone 14 model was three weeks behind schedule due to the impact of lockdowns on Apple's supply chains in China, but it was not clear which iPhone 14 model this related to. Now, Pu has clarified that the model...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
Apple Tap to Pay iPhone

Apple Stores Rolling Out iPhone-to-iPhone Contactless Payments Starting Today

Wednesday May 25, 2022 6:54 am PDT by
Apple in February unveiled a new "Tap to Pay on iPhone" feature that will allow compatible iPhones to accept payments via Apple Pay, contactless credit and debit cards, and other digital wallets, with no additional hardware required. Apple began testing the feature at its Apple Park Visitor Center earlier this month, and now Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has tweeted that the feature will begin...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 15.5.1 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Wednesday May 25, 2022 9:42 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 15.5.1, a minor update to the tvOS operating system that first launched in September 2021. tvOS 15.5.1 comes about 10 days after the launch of tvOS 15.5. tvOS 15.5.1 can be downloaded over the air on the Apple TV through the Settings app by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌‌‌ owners who have automatic software updates...