Apple will fix Screen Time vulnerability in iOS 17.5.2: Prevents kids from bypassing parental controls

iPhone 14 Pro

Apple has long been touted as a leader in providing robust parental controls through its Screen Time feature. However, recent reports have highlighted a significant vulnerability in the system that has been ignored for years. The bug allows users, including minors, to bypass content restrictions by entering a specific string of characters in the Safari address bar, potentially exposing them to harmful content. Apple has finally acknowledged the issue and promised to fix it in the upcoming iOS 17.5.2 update.

Screen Time vulnerability

The Bug and Its Discovery

The vulnerability was first discovered by security researchers Andreas Jägersberger and Ro Achterberg in 2020. They reported the issue to Apple’s security team in March 2021, but their concerns were initially dismissed. The researchers were asked to file a general report via Apple’s feedback tool, which was ignored. They re-reported the issue as a security concern in August 2021, but Apple maintained that it was not a security vulnerability. The researchers spent three years trying to bring the issue to Apple’s attention, even suggesting a potential fix. It wasn’t until they reached out to Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal that Apple finally acknowledged the potential implications and promised a fix.

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The Impact on Parents and Children

The bug has significant implications for parents who rely on Apple’s Screen Time feature to manage their children’s online activities. The feature is designed to provide a safe and controlled environment for children, but the vulnerability undermines this goal. Parents who set time limits and restrictions on certain content can no longer trust that these limits will be enforced. The bug also highlights the lack of competition in the parental control market, leaving parents with few alternatives to Apple’s built-in system.

Apple’s Response and Future Plans

Apple has acknowledged the issue and promised to fix it in the next software update. An Apple spokesperson stated that the company is “aware of an issue with the developer’s underlying network technology protocols that could allow users to bypass network content restrictions” and that Apple “plans to fix the issue in the next software update.” Apple also emphasized that it takes reports of Screen Time issues seriously and has been continuously improving the feature, including addressing a major vulnerability in the latest version, iOS 17.5.


The vulnerability in Apple’s Screen Time feature highlights the importance of continuous updates and improvements to parental control systems. Apple’s response to the issue is a step in the right direction. However, it also underscores the need for more robust and reliable parental control solutions. Parents should be aware of this bug and take steps to ensure their children’s online safety. If it is possible, it is best to not rely on the feature until Apple releases a fix.

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