In a funny turn of events, an eight-year-old girl managed to fool iPhone’s Screen Time by exploiting a bug in the parental control feature. Redditor Jsmith4523 noticed something odd — his sister was still watching YouTube, way past her allotted time even though the Screen Time limit was enabled on the iPhone.
It turns out that she’d figured out a pretty simple trick to keep watching more videos: by accessing YouTube through the iMessage App Store. His sister says that “she has been doing this for a couple of weeks now.”
Screen Time basically lets parents cut off their kid’s access to certain apps or all apps on an iPhone or iPad after a certain period of time has passed. It can even work during a certain time period, for instance, between 9 PM to 7 AM.
But this trickery involves using the iMessage app, which for some reason, allows access to other apps during Screen Time curfew. This is how it works:
- Open the iMessage app.
- Initiate a new text message.
- In the iMessage mini-app bar, find and tap on the iMessage App Store (here all other apps would be inaccessible, including YouTube).
- In the search box, type YouTube and open it.
Now you’d see the YouTube interface, which lets you browse any video despite the screen time enabled on iOS.
Jsmith4523 says that his sister was using an iPhone 6 running iOS 12.4.6. He tried the hack on his iPhone X running iOS 13.4.1, and it worked. What’s is even more surprising that other Redditors who tried this hack claimed that it works right from a first-gen iPhone SE to the current iPhone 11 Pro.
Weirdly enough, the original post was deleted by the Redditor later, despite gather 450+ upvotes on it at the time of writing.
We aren’t sure why he did that, but there are several comments on the thread stating that he can register this bug on Apple bug bounty. However, others pointed out that to be eligible for the bug bounty, he needs to disclose the bug to Apple before making it public. So it could be a reason why he deleted it.
Anyway, this isn’t the first time when a multi-billion dollar company was outsmarted by kids. There have been numerous instances where kids managed to fool parents and their parental control weapons.
In this case, we are glad that it’s not a serious bug, and is rather easy for Apple to fix it.