PSA: Recently Updated to iOS 12.2? Your Kids May Be Able to Bypass Parental Controls

Ios 12 2 Parental Restrictions Credit: Unsplash / Dhe Haivan
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If you’re a parent with younger children and rely on iOS parental controls, it might be a good idea to double-check your kids’ iPads to make sure that they can’t actually access websites that they’re not supposed to.

An iDrop News reader has reported an issue with parental website restrictions that were no longer being enforced after updating her child’s iPad to iOS 12.2.

In an email shared with us, the user noted that after updating her 10-year-old’s iPad to the latest iOS version, she was able to access “any website, anywhere on the internet completely unrestricted.”

While the restrictions still appeared to be in place, they were not being enforced.

The parent pointed to the iOS 12.2 update as a likely source of the problem, noting that she had similar restrictions set on her other child’s iPad, which has not yet been updated, and those appear to be working fine.

She added that she has been in contact with Apple about the problem, but said that they have not yet provided a resolution to the problem that she is experiencing.

Although we’ve been unable to reproduce this problem in our own labs, even after extensive testing, it’s entirely possible that a “perfect storm” of configuration settings and iOS updates could be triggering a bug that’s impacting some users, and as some of us are parents ourselves, we think this could be a pretty big problem; so it’s definitely worth taking a couple of minutes to pick up your kids’ iPads and double-check that everything is working properly.

What Should I Do?

If you’ve previously set up parental restrictions on an iPhone or iPad prior to iOS 12, these have now been integrated into the Screen Time section of the iOS Settings app, so you should also check to make sure that they’re still properly enabled.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Follow the prompts to set up Screen Time or select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  4. Make sure Content & Privacy Restrictions are turned on and all of your settings for blocked content are correct.
  5. Open Safari and try to visit a restricted page to make sure that it can’t be used to access any pages that are otherwise blocked by parental restrictions.

While Apple’s parental restriction features have been relatively stable in most of Apple’s iOS releases, issues like these were actually quite common as Apple rebuilt the system into Screen Time during the original iOS 12.0 beta cycle last summer, and we heard some reports of various restrictions and Screen Time limits not working as they should in early iOS 12 releases, especially when being synced from a parent’s device to a child’s via iCloud.

iOS 12.2 didn’t make any major changes to Screen Time, although it did offer the ability to set “Downtime” schedules based on different days of the week, as well as the ability to temporarily disable all daily time limits for apps. This resulted in some minor transitional bumps for parents who upgraded their own personal devices and their kids’ devices to iOS 12.2 at different times, but this is the first serious Screen Time issue we’ve encountered in recent iOS releases.

We’ve reached out to the user who originally reported the problem for more details, and are continuing to conduct more research and testing, so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available to us.

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