Screen Time flaw lets kids use Safari without limitations

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iOS 12's new Screen Time feature isn't a panacea for good parenting. Even small children can find workarounds.
Screen Time is a great concept. But it's got its weaknesses.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iOS 12’s Screen Time feature is a great way of making sure that people, particularly children, don’t spend too long using their iOS devices. That’s an important goal, whether you’re worried about the potential mental health impact of overusing technology or just want to stop your kids wasting their time on social media.

It turns out that there’s a workaround on Safari, however — as discovered by the eldest son of computer security expert and iOS hacker David Schuetz.

“So my eldest was watching videos when we checked on him in bed last night,” Schuetz wrote on Twitter. “And an hour later, he was doing it again. Turns out, he figured out you can force-quit Safari and the Screen Time limit isn’t checked at the next launch.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean much if you’re an adult using Screen Time to monitor your own iPhone usage. However, if you’re a parent who wants to keep tabs on your kids’ use, it’s a pretty big loophole to be abused.

Loopholes in Screen Time

This isn’t the first loophole that’s been found (usually by kids) within Apple’s Screen Time feature. Others, shared in a thread on Reddit, include sending YouTube videos through the iMessages app and reinstalling previously installed games, added after the time limits were introduced.

Ultimately, Apple can keep playing whack-a-mole with these loopholes, but more will likely be found. Hopefully, parents will realize that Screen Time is no substitute for proper parenting and won’t rely on Apple to stop their kids overusing their smartphones.

To find out more on Apple’s Screen Time feature, check out our handy how-to guide here.