Glitches in Apple's parental control feature allow kids to access adult content on iPhones, iPads

Apple's parental control feature is facing criticism as users report issues with screen time, leaving many frustrated.

| Updated on: Jul 31 2023, 09:43 IST
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Frustration mounts as Apple's parental controls struggle to function properly. (Apple)

Apple Screen Time feature, introduced back in 2018, was aimed at empowering parents to control their children's screen time and app usage on Apple devices like iPhones, iPads, and iPods. However, recent reports have highlighted some persistent issues with the parental control system, leaving families frustrated and seeking solutions.

Challenges and User Complaints Arise with Screen Time

According to The Wall Street Journal, parents have been experiencing problems with the Screen Time controls and they have expressed their frustrations online. The feature, particularly the setting called "Downtime," is supposed to enable parents to restrict app access and limit screen time for their kids. Unfortunately, some users have found that their desired changes are not taking effect, resulting in children getting extra time on apps or accessing adult content without any restrictions.

Apple acknowledges the issue and has assured users that they are taking the matter seriously. An Apple representative stated, "We are aware that some users may be experiencing an issue where Screen Time settings are unexpectedly reset. We have been and will continue to make updates to improve the situation." The tech giant attempted to address the problem with the iOS 16.5 update released in May, promising to fix the bug causing Screen Time settings to reset or not sync across all devices.

Parental Control Issues Since 2020

Despite the company's efforts, the exact timeline of when the problem began remains unclear. Complaints regarding parental control issues have been surfacing as far back as 2020, with users expressing frustration and concern about their inability to effectively manage their children's screen time.

On an Apple discussion page, one user shared, "I've used screen time for my kids to limit time on certain apps. It worked well for years, but now I will set the limits and then they will suddenly disappear after a day or even less." Other users chimed in, stating that they have been struggling with the issue for months and have even sought direct assistance from Apple's support.

CEO Voices Disappointment Over Glitch in System

One CEO, Mark Rowe from Boston, who has four children, expressed his dismay when he discovered that one of his kids had unrestricted access to adult websites due to the malfunctioning parental controls. "It's frustrating that something that's so simple and should work doesn't," Rowe told The Wall Street Journal. He voiced concern over the amount of time he had to invest in dealing with the problem, which should have been a straightforward process.

Amidst the growing concern over technology's impact on children, Apple's CEO Tim Cook has previously advocated for parents to set "hard rails" on their children's screen time. He has shown awareness of the challenges posed by excessive device usage, particularly in educational settings.

As the issue continues to be under scrutiny, users are hopeful that Apple will find a comprehensive solution soon. For now, parents are advised to keep an eye on their children's device usage and take alternative measures to ensure their digital safety.

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First Published Date: 31 Jul, 09:08 IST