We’ve already discussed the new Communication Safety feature in depth, but basically, it looks like Apple is ready to turn the key on this important child safety feature that it hopes will help avoid exploitation by those who prey on children.
For the most part, the feature works as it was originally proposed, with one important exception. While Apple originally planned to send parental notifications when a child under the age of 13 chose to ignore the warnings and view sexually explicit material, this has been disabled in the actual implementation.
Some child safety advocates justifiably felt that these notifications could put children at risk of abusive behaviour from parents. Apple wisely listened, so now the feature works the same for all children under the age of 18, simply identifying and blurring out sexually explicit photos sent or received in the Messages app and providing warnings to the youngster if they choose to proceed to view or send the photos anyway.
The age-appropriate warnings not only explain that the child probably shouldn’t be looking at these photos, but also offer advice on how to seek help from a trusted adult if somebody is making them uncomfortable by sending them inappropriate pictures.
The Communication Safety feature is basically just an extension to the Screen Time features that are already at a parent’s disposal. As with all other Screen Time features, they’re only available to devices in a Family Sharing group, and parents have to explicitly enable Communication Safety in the same way that they have to enable time restrictions, app restrictions, or content filters in Safari.
Just keep in mind, however, that this only applies to the Messages app — if children have access to other messaging platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok, there’s nothing Apple can do about that. It’s up to the developers of these apps to provide their own child safety features, but sadly most haven’t really done much to address this.