Apple confirms Parental Controls settings-clearing bug will get fixed

Posted:
in iOS edited July 2023

Apple has confirmed issues with Screen Time has resulted in restrictions to a child's iPhone or iPad failing to be enforced, allowing younger users to use their devices for longer than parents want.




Screen Time is designed as a way for parents to keep tabs on the device usage of their children. The feature allows parents to set an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple product to be used for a certain amount of time within a schedule, including limiting the kinds of apps being used.

However, the tool isn't working as intended at the moment, as attempts to change settings aren't being applied properly. The result is that the child can continue using the hardware under previously-configured settings, rather than the updated scheduling.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple had previously acknowledged the existence of the bug as one that didn't properly sync across all devices, fixing it in iOS 16.5. However in continued testing by the publication, including in the iOS 17 public beta, the publication claims that it still exists.

"We are aware that some users may be experiencing an issue where Screen Time settings are unexpectedly reset," an Apple spokeswoman told the report. "We take these reports very seriously and we have been, and will continue, making updates to improve the situation."

The issue specifically deals with Downtime, a setting within Screen Time, used to define the hours an iPhone or iPad is limited for, or rendered effectively unusable. While a setting can be changed within the tool, it can sometimes revert to a previously-set state, or not be restricted at all.

There is no way the issue can be detected short of repeatedly checking how it is set, or by observing the device usage habits of their children more directly.

Despite the problem when it comes to changing the setting and expecting it to roll out to all affected devices the child uses, it does still work every time if you make the change on the device directly. This does raise the need to physically make the change on a per-device basis, which can be time-intensive to perform, or difficult if the device is a far distance away.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    cjaercjaer Posts: 14member
    Man, as a frustrated parent deeply invested in the Apple ecosystem, I hate to point out that this is just one of the many problems with screen time. 

    Right now my kids (teens with phones that are stripped down iPhones) can turn on personal hotspot to create their own internet portal that is totally free of any of my device restrictions as well as any of my control at our household router. I have T Mobile in the USA. Despite the existence of a toggle that would suggest restricting a user from changing cellular data settings, the toggle doesn't keep personal hotspot locked down. 

    In my conversations with Apple and Tmobile each punted. T-Mobile claims that as it is part of my plans core services, I cannot temporarily disable. Apple claimed to me that the personal hotspot feature was set by carrier and could not be locked down at the OS level. 

    While I find Apple's stance hard to believe, the end result is that millions of kids are walking around with the ability to access anything. This is so much worse because Apple markets the products as having capabilities that they simply do not deliver on.

    Hard to imagine why this doesn't have more attention on it.
    gatorguyappleinsideruserAlex1NbeowulfschmidtFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 2 of 7
    motif88motif88 Posts: 9member
    We’ve had a bunch issues with screen time sync across devices. We have a special needs child and screen time has been huge benefit to control both positive engagement and negative activities. On a regular basis, changes made do not sync properly across devices and we wind with apps being downloaded that he should not have access to.

    Restarts, airplane mode on/off and other measure eventually work but in may cases it just doesn’t work. 
    Alex1Nlaytech
  • Reply 3 of 7
    dutchlorddutchlord Posts: 201member
    Screentime never worked correctly and simply doesn’t do what it is supposed to do: control the use of the device by children. I noticed from the beginning set limits were not working correctly and could be circumvented easily by children. Come on Apple wake up, this is not a hobby
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 7
    I have this issue wherein my kids send a request for Screen Time and even though I approve it, it is not reflected on their iPads. Approving from my iMac sees the most success with the iPhone coming in next. Success rate of approvals from the Apple Watch is absolutely abysmal. Most of the times the kids end up bringing their device to me and I approve screen time directly on the device.

    I hope this gets sorted soon.
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 5 of 7
    We have had no end of trouble getting Screentime to effectively limit my son's digital device activities for the past several years. Very few of the problems are with the software.

    I choose to look on this as a positive sign that my son, when motivated sufficiently, is capable of circumventing any and all obstacles placed in his way... although at 2am I don't always have that attitude front of mind.
  • Reply 6 of 7
    laytechlaytech Posts: 334member
    It’s buggy as hell at the moment. Stopped working.

    im disappointed screen time didn’t get any new features in ios17. I would have liked the ability to delete apps from my child’s devices. I’d like to also set two downtime periods eg school hours then bed time so I can set it to be controlled during school, allow some free time after school and then lock down in the evening.

    Hopefully screen time can be improved soon.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,104member
    We have had no end of trouble getting Screentime to effectively limit my son's digital device activities for the past several years. Very few of the problems are with the software.

    I choose to look on this as a positive sign that my son, when motivated sufficiently, is capable of circumventing any and all obstacles placed in his way... although at 2am I don't always have that attitude front of mind.
    So OpenAI (ChatGPT) says:

    Here are some ways that kids can bypass Apple Screen Time:
    • Send messages through the "Share" function: For example, they can take a screenshot and use the "Share to Messages" function to bring up the Messaging app
    • Have access to the Apple ID and password: They can reset their passcode using that Apple ID
    • Delete and reinstall restricted apps: They can uninstall an app from the device and then reinstall it
    • Send messages through Siri or Contacts: They can ask Siri to send messages by voice
    • Watch YouTube through iMessage: They can watch YouTube through iMessage
    • Change the time in device settings: They can change the time in device settings
    • Turn off Screen Time Family Sharing: They can go into settings -> screen time and "Turn off Screen Time Family Sharing"
    edited August 2023 muthuk_vanalingam
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