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Kids can bypass parental controls in iOS 13.3 and talk to anyone

iOS 13 dark mode
iOS 13 dark mode (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A bug is allowing kids to bypass parental controls on iOS 13.3.
  • A child with Communication Limits on can still add unknown numbers to their address book.
  • This allows them to call, text, or FaceTime with anyone.

The Communication Limits feature was released in iOS 13.3, allowing parents to prevent their kids from talking to anyone not in their contact list. According to a new report by CNBC, there is a bug that is allowing kids to bypass that parental control.

The outlet found that if an unknown number sends a text message to a child's device that has the feature turned on, the child is still given a prompt to add the number to their address book, if the contacts are not stored in iCloud by default. This would then allow the child to send messages, call, or FaceTime with the unknown number without the knowledge of the parent. If Communication Limits was working correctly, the parent would have to enter a PIN to allow the child to add the number to the address book.

Kids are also able to get around this parental control if they have an Apple Watch paired to the iPhone. They are still able to use Siri to call or text any number regardless of if it is in their address book, even if the Communication Limits feature is turned on.

Apple has responded to the CNBC report, saying that a permanent fix to this bug will be coming in a future software release.

"This issue only occurs on devices set up with a non-standard configuration, and a workaround is available. We're working on a complete fix and will release it in an upcoming software update."

If you want to check and see if your child's phone has their contacts set to iCloud by default, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Contacts.
  3. Tap Default Account.
  4. Select iCloud.

There is one workaround to this bug if you do not and do not want to have iCloud as the default contacts option, and that is by turning on the Downtime feature. According to CNBC, turning on Downtime prevented a child's phone from being able to add an unknown number to their address book.

Apple has not specified what exact update of iOS will include the fix for the bug, or when that update can be expected.

Joe Wituschek
Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.