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Enterprising kids are finding ways to bypass Screen Time limits and other parental controls on Apple devices, much to the chagrin of concerned parents.
First introduced in iOS 12, Screen Time is a “digital wellbeing” feature that lets users monitor their device usage. But it also has more restrictive capabilities meant to help curb screen time, both for adult users and for kids.
Now, about a year after its debut, Screen Time bypasses are all too common. And the Washington Post points out that parents are concerned.
Screen Time Loopholes
The Washington Post reports that kids are finding the Screen Time loopholes fairly easily — whether by their own experimentation or through reading instructions on the internet.
These are not actual “hacks” that require any particularly in-depth technical knowledge. Instead, they’re just simple bypasses that seem to thwart certain aspects of the Screen Time platform. That includes everything from:
- Continually restarting a phone until it “breaks” Screen Time.
- Deleting a Screen Time-protected app and re-downloading it from the App Store.
- Straight up resetting an iPhone to factory default settings.
- Creating a new Apple ID.
- The classic “change time zone” bypass, which people have used for a variety of workarounds for years.
In other cases, kids are simply able to guess or otherwise glean the 4-digit passcode locking down Screen Time.
None of the bypasses are particularly sophisticated. But they all seem to be fairly successful at getting around Screen Time restrictions.
What Parents Can Do
There’s an argument to be made that Apple isn’t doing enough to curb internet addiction among its young users. That argument was likely even one of the reasons why Apple introduced Screen Time in the first place back.
But it’s important to note that Screen Time, or any parental control app, is not a magical fix that can automatically replace vigilance and attention from parents. More than that, they aren’t meant to be.
Technically savvy youngsters with plenty of time on their hands are still going to be able to find a way around certain restrictions. There’s no such thing as a fully “secure” system.
And many of the “loopholes” explained above can be closed by simply implementing the restrictions correctly. Part of the responsibility of parents setting up a feature like Screen Time is to properly understand and get familiar with its features and limitations.
Apple could spend more time and effort implementing fixes for this workaround, and it probably should. But, again, that isn’t a substitute for parents keeping a closer eye on their kids’ internet usage — and it isn’t going to stop kids from finding bypasses in the future.
More than that, for parents having a hard time reigning in their child’s internet usage, there’s undoubtedly no more effective way to curb a child’s screen time than to simply take away the screen.