Apple's Screen Time Bug: No Respect for Time Limits

  • Benjamin Davis
  • Aug 01, 2023
  • 231
Apple's Screen Time Bug: No Respect for Time Limits

The device and software giant, Apple, has corroborated the existence of a bug in its Screen Time feature which undermines imposed usage limits. Certain families have complained about children bypassing time restrictions set by parents on their apps and games. The Wall Street Journal reported the issue over the weekend, promising Apple to rectify the error without committing to a specific timeline.

Launched via iOS 12 in 2018, Screen Time, which was developed to replace third-party apps, is a set of parental control parameters within Apple devices managed through Family Sharing. Adult users can establish a variety of controls, such as the duration spent on particular in-demand apps or classes of apps, including games. Other controls involve setting communication limits and scheduling “downtime,” a period allowing only parent-sanctioned apps and calls. This downtime method is often utilized at bedtime to avoid children being distracted by gameplay or social media activities.

Regrettably, an identified bug within Screen Time is currently preventing parental controls from being honored, according to a report by the Journal. This allows young users to surpass imposed time constraints, leaving parents unaware that their set limits are ineffective.

With iOS 16.5, Apple claimed to have remedied a glitch with Screen Time that caused “settings to reset or fail to sync across all devices." However, the new report suggests the problem persists, even in the beta version of the forthcoming iOS 17. As young users usually won’t report the issue of having bonus time on their devices, parents remain compelled to trust that the controls are functioning and not exceeding the set time limits and app permissions. This places parents in a precarious position, unknowing that the bug may be influencing their family’s device usage decisions.

Apple's monopoly on Screen Time tools has placed it in a complex situation, as most parents now rely solely on Apple’s system to enforce screen time restrictions on their children's gadgets. However, as this bug underlines, where there are flaws in the controls, the effects are widespread, leading to complications for families. Understandably, the company is under pressure to correct this given the significant media attention of late, signaling that the bug's resolution is likely to be prioritized, perhaps in time for the public release of iOS 17.

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