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Apple confirms Parental Controls settings-clearing bug will get fixed

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Apple has confirmed issues with Screen Time has resulted in restrictions to a child's iPhone or iPad failing to be enforced, allowing younger users to use their devices for longer than parents want.

Screen Time is designed as a way for parents to keep tabs on the device usage of their children. The feature allows parents to set an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple product to be used for a certain amount of time within a schedule, including limiting the kinds of apps being used.

However, the tool isn't working as intended at the moment, as attempts to change settings aren't being applied properly. The result is that the child can continue using the hardware under previously-configured settings, rather than the updated scheduling.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple had previously acknowledged the existence of the bug as one that didn't properly sync across all devices, fixing it in iOS 16.5. However in continued testing by the publication, including in the iOS 17 public beta, the publication claims that it still exists.

"We are aware that some users may be experiencing an issue where Screen Time settings are unexpectedly reset," an Apple spokeswoman told the report. "We take these reports very seriously and we have been, and will continue, making updates to improve the situation."

The issue specifically deals with Downtime, a setting within Screen Time, used to define the hours an iPhone or iPad is limited for, or rendered effectively unusable. While a setting can be changed within the tool, it can sometimes revert to a previously-set state, or not be restricted at all.

There is no way the issue can be detected short of repeatedly checking how it is set, or by observing the device usage habits of their children more directly.

Despite the problem when it comes to changing the setting and expecting it to roll out to all affected devices the child uses, it does still work every time if you make the change on the device directly. This does raise the need to physically make the change on a per-device basis, which can be time-intensive to perform, or difficult if the device is a far distance away.