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Published on Nov 18, 2021
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Juliya Smith

How to Hack Screen Time on iPhone

Are you wondering how kids bypass Screen Time? It's pretty simple to learn how to hack Screen Time on an iPhone through internet tips and tutorials. However, some ways can be taken to prevent it, and here we've listed some methods to unpack what kids have done and escape from the loophole.

Many parents are worried about the increased use of electronic devices by their children. Wise parents are trying to limit their children's spend on various activities like playing games, social networking, and watching YouTube.

The number of time a kid spends on such activities may eat up the whole day, and it can consume 2 to 8 hours daily or more.

Apple introduced the Screen Time feature into their iOS 12 and iOS 13 operating systems to ease parental fears of digital distractions. Today, Many parents use Screen Time on their iPhones and iPads.

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Screen Time gives parents an overview of what their children do, including the amount of time that they spend and if the intervention is required or not.

Also, there are features in the Screen Time app that parents can use to restrict iOS devices, block specific apps, games, and websites, or create content limitations for their children. But, you know what? Kids have found many ways to hack Screen Time limits on iOS devices.

Apple's software still contains loopholes, and this is why children can exploit vulnerabilities in parental control systems to spend more time playing games. In this guide, we have listed below the hacks that kids use and solutions to prevent these hacks if you are a parent.

Watching YouTube Videos Through iMessage

YouTube turned into a modern TV, where you can watch millions of videos. But, YouTube still has a long way to go for proper moderation and filter to remove disturbing videos. As a result, even for well-rated videos, your child can be approached by pedophiles.

That is why more parents are disabling or limiting the use of YouTube on iPads and iPhones. Therefore, you must pay attention to the videos that your children access online.

How Kids Hack It

While you can lock, disable or even uninstall the YouTube app and Safari Internet browsers, a workaround exists that uses iMessage. iMessage contains so-called applets, and when you install a YouTube app, it will also install a YouTube applet for iMessage. This applet allows you to watch YouTube videos directly from within the iMessage app. So your child can send a link of YouTube videos to themself or ask a friend to send them, and they can watch them inside iMessage by simply clicking on the link to open it with the iMessage YouTube Applet.

Solution

Uninstall your YouTube app from your iPhone or iPad completely. It will also remove the iMessage plugin that allows you to watch videos inside iMessage chat. Setting parental controls on YouTube is essential for providing a secure digital environment for your children. You might want to disable access to the YouTube website as well.

To disable YouTube:

  • Go to Screen Time.
  • Select Content and Privacy Restrictions and go to Content Restrictions options.
  • Go to Web Content, select Limit Adult Websites, and add youtube.com under the Never Allow list. It will completely block access to the YouTube.com website.

Kids can access YouTube through the iMessage app so, you might also want to remove the iMessage app from the device. You have to remove the iMessage app from the Always Allowed list.

To do that, go to Screen Time and select the Always Allowed option. Then, press the white minus sign on the red circle to remove iMessage from the list of Allowed Apps. Now, YouTube will be blocked on your iPhone, and your kids will be unable to access it even through iMessage.

Uninstalling and Reinstalling Apps

If parents restrict an app to a specific time limit, children can bypass this limit by uninstalling and then reinstalling the app. It is simple to reinstall an app that has not been purchased. The timer isn't reset when this happens; it simply doesn't carry over to the next game. Once kids do this, the time limits on specific apps will disappear.

How Kids Hack It

They open the App Store and click on the cloud icon at the right top, which gives them access to other iCloud accounts inside Family Access to uninstall an app. Then, by finding this app and clicking on the cloud icon, children can reinstall the same game from their parent's account. The time limit is no longer applicable to that app after reinstallation. As a result, kids can use this app or game for an unlimited amount of time.

Solution

Using the Downtime option in Screen Time, a parent can set time limits for games and apps. When the timer runs out, a system screen appears, blocking an app and indicating that the time is over. Disable the App Store altogether to prevent the installation of games and apps.

To do this:

  • Go to the Screen Time option and select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  • Go to iTunes & App Store Purchases option and select Installing Apps.
  • Select the Don't Allow option.

It will immediately hide the App Store icon from this device, and there will be no way to install new apps because there will be no App Store icon.

Changing The Time Zone

Downtime is an effective tool for preventing children from using certain apps for an extended period. If the 'Block at Downtime' toggle is turned on, the child will request an extended period from their parents. However, just before Downtime begins, you can change the time zone on your phone to avoid it.

To keep the time zone consistent, select 'Don't Allow Changes' on the Location Services screen. If you've used the Screen Time DownTime scheduled time limitation feature, you'll know that it allows you to set the period's start and end when apps and games are unlocked. So, for example, you could enable any app to run from 6 pm to 8 pm on Friday.

How Kids Hack It

This hack appears to be pretty self-evident. First, kids go to the General option in settings, then to the Date and Time screen. Then they disable Automatic Update and manually change the current system date and time to the desired time, at which point all games are unlocked.

It will also allow children to switch the day to a weekend when they will have more freedom and extended periods. Also, If the Downtime is from 6 pm to 8 pm on Friday, they can switch it to Friday at 7 pm.

Solution

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent kids from accessing the Settings screen. As a result, the only option is to prevent your child from using an iPad or iPhone in any way. Remove your child's fingerprints from the iPad's General – Passwords section so they can't use their fingerprints to unlock the device.

Then change the iPad master passcode and hide the iPad or iPhone when it's not being used. Only a parent can unlock a device when it should be used.

Screen Recording to Steal Passwords

When Screen Time has disabled everything, you can enter the Screen Time password to unlock websites, applications, games and update your Screen Time Settings. Even if you aren't sharing your password with anyone, there is a sneaky way to get your password.

Your iPhone includes a screen recording feature, which your children can use to record your screen and discover your Screen Time passcode. If your children have exploited this flaw in your iPhone's Screen Time, you can close the loophole by turning off the screen recording feature.

How Kids Hack It

Apple introduced screen video recording, and it records all on-screen activity into a video that can be saved in the Photos and Camera apps. Furthermore, when a parent types the screen time password on a screen, this can be used to record the screen. So, it works like this: your child brings you their iPad during their allotted time and tells you that instead of sending you a request to some app, please type the Screen Time password because something isn't working in sending a request.

In the meantime, a small red icon on the top bar will indicate that this iPad is currently running a screen recording, which records everything on the screen as a video. When your child watches this video later, they will tell which numbers on the screen were touched because the numbers on the pin code screen change color slightly when they are touched to enter a password.

Solution

When inspecting the iPad or iPhone your child gave you, keep an eye out for that small red icon on the right top, especially when entering the Screen Time password. Alternatively, go to the Screen Time option and select the Content & Privacy Restrictions option. After that, go to the Content Restrictions option and select the Screen Recording at the bottom of the list. Finally, select the Don't Allow option to disable screen recording on your iOS device altogether.

Use Siri to Send Messages

It is an everyday hack that can be difficult to spot, so you might want to keep a watch on your child while they're on their phones from time to time. If your child can use iMessage to text their friends despite you turning it off during App Limits or Downtime, they're likely using Siri's help.

How Kids Hack It

Kids use Siri to send messages to their friends even if you have disabled sending messages on your iPhone. Kids bypass this restriction by calling or texting any number, known or unknown, using Siri on the Apple Watch. Apple is still trying to find a solution to this issue.

Solution

To prevent children from using Siri to send messages, you can turn off Siri on the iPhone or iPad. Disabling Siri on your iPhone is one way to resolve this issue. It prevents them from invoking it and, as a result, from sending any messages.

To disable Siri:

  • Go to Screen Time and select Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  • Enter your passcode and choose Allowed Apps.
  • Switch the Siri & Dictation toggle to the off position. Your iPhone's Siri should now be turned off, and your children will be unable to send messages using it.

Using Hard Reset to Reset Screen Time Settings

It's challenging to outsmart your children once they've figured out how to use an iPhone, especially since one common trick is to factory reset the device. It removes all restrictions and allows the child to start over without the parent's knowledge. Keep an eye on the information provided by Screen Time. If it fluctuates or doesn't show any usage tracking, your child may have reset their phone.

How Kids Hack It

To erase everything on their iPad or iPhone, children go to the General option and select the Erase option. Then, they enter their iCloud name and password, and everything is restored from Apple iCloud in less than an hour. The iOS device will no longer have Screen Time after the restoration because it will be completely disabled, and all Screen Time passwords will be automatically removed.

Solution

Change your child's iCloud password to prevent them from restoring iOS devices without your permission. When you reset an iPad or iPhone, you must first re-enter your iCloud name and password.

Bypassing a Safari Lock by Running a Settings Browser via Warning Icon

Parents who worry about their children's safety should disable the apps and the Safari browser. As a result, their sons and daughters will not access Youtube or play some online games in a browser.

How Kids Hack It

Some children discovered that they could launch an unrestricted browser by clicking the warning icon on the Website & App Passwords settings screen. When a duplicated password is used and saved for two different websites, this warning icon appears. When iOS detects duplicate passwords, an exclamation triangle icon appears next to the website address, indicating the error. The menu with the Change Password option appears when you click this exclamation icon.

By selecting this option, the unrestricted browser is launched. So kids are saving and setting duplicated passwords for Google.com, and they can access the Google.com website by clicking the warning icon and then changing their password. Then they can type the name of any website into the search input box and click through to it from Google's search results.

Solution

Regrettably, there is no way to prevent access to the Settings screen. However, you can set a system-wide limit to allow only a few websites to be opened in any browser window.

To do this, go to Screen Time and select the Content & Privacy Restrictions option. Next, select the Content Restrictions option and go to Web Content. In Web Content, switch to the Allowed Websites the Only option. Then, this iPhone or iPad will only be able to access websites from that allowed list.

The other method is to disable physical access to the device without your permission. Remove your child's fingerprints from the iPad in General – Passwords settings so they can't use their fingers to unlock the device. Then change the master passcode on your iPad or iPhone and store it somewhere safe when it's not in use.

Launching Safari From Within Third-party Applications via their Built-in Browser

This hack is similar to the one before it, but it takes a different route. While you can use Screen Time to altogether disable Safari or restrict access to a specific list of websites, there are still apps that have built-in browser windows. Some Google apps, chat apps like Facebook Messenger and Telegram, and a few others use built-in browser windows to open links. Additionally, the built-in browser can be used to open some of the in-app advertisements.

How Kids Hack It

So, to access the website, children use this type of app, which they know has a built-in browser. It could be a Gmail app or a Facebook Messenger app. Alternatively, children may download other free apps that contain in-app advertisements.

They open a browser by clicking on the links within the app, which launches the built-in browser. By clicking on additional links in this in-app browser window, kids can go to any other website, such as Google or Youtube, and play online web games.

Solution

Being a parent, you can set a system-wide limit only to allow a few websites to be opened at any given time. Because iOS works, even built-in browsers will be limited to the websites you have added to your list.

To do this:

  • Go to Screen Time and select the Content & Privacy Restrictions option.
  • Select Content Restrictions and go to Web Content for more information.
  • Change the setting to the Allowed Websites Only, and your iPad or iPhone will only access those sites.
  • Disable apps with built-in browsers, such as Google's Gmail and others, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram Messenger, leaving the only iMessage as the only chat app, as iMessage does not have any built-in browsers.

The more strict approach is to altogether disable access to your iPad or iPhone without your permission. In General>Passwords, delete the fingerprints of your children from your iOS device. They won't be able to use a touch id to unlock the iPad this way. Then change the master passcode and keep the tablet or iPhone out of reach of your children when they are not allowed to use it.

Conclusion

And that's all there is to it! We're sure there are more Screen Time hacks out there, but these are a few of the most common ones mentioned by parents. Kids being kids; sometimes find a way to hack and use apps more than permitted. Every step of the way, kids are outsmarting parents.

Screen Time's Content & Privacy Restrictions do a decent job of preventing explicit content in Safari and other hidden browsers. But, when it comes to getting more screen time, children's creativity increases by a power of a hundred. First and foremost, determine why your child is doing this in the first place. You never know what you'll learn about your child.

Limiting physical access to iPads and iPhones is the best way to prevent unauthorized use. Change the passcode to something only you know, make sure only your fingerprints are added to the settings and ask your child to bring the device to you each time.

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Juliya Smith

Hello, I am Juliya a mother of 2 children and a content editor at fenced.ai where I share parenting tips and guides on how to keep your child safe online.