Kids Know How to Get Around iPhone and iPad Parental Controls. Here’s How to Regain Control.
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Kids Know How to Get Around iPhone and iPad Parental Controls. Here’s How to Regain Control.

By JULIE JARGON
Mon, Sep 5, 2022 8:43amGrey Clock 4 min
For parents, knowing the Screen Time cheats is half the battle; the other half is talking your children out of using them

If you think locking down your kids’ iPhones or iPads is just a matter of turning on some Screen Time settings, think again.

Apple’s Screen Time controls are fairly simple, and in most cases, they can provide peace of mind. But it’s no surprise that children have gotten good at finding ways to bypass its time limits and app restrictions. Some workarounds are clever hacks, others entail sketchy software downloads. Often, though, kids are benefiting from the mistakes their parents made when setting up controls.

First, and this should go without saying: Don’t ever share your Apple ID password or Screen Time passcode with your children.

With the launch of iOS 16, expected in the coming weeks, Apple is making Screen Time and Family Sharing setup easier for parents. (See box.) With each software update, it also fixes known hacks—including many that were mentioned to me by online-safety experts, ethical teen hackers and parents. The best way to outwit your children is to make sure their devices run the latest system software.

Go to Settings > General > Software Update and make sure the Automatic Updates option is on. And always check that the new software actually loaded.

Here’s the problem: If the kids are using old, hand-me-down iPads or iPhones, Apple might no longer provide those important updates. Any device Apple doesn’t support anymore could be vulnerable to funny business.

I focused on Apple because of its dominance of the U.S. market, especially among kids. Any device or platform’s parental controls could be susceptible to manipulation, so always be on your guard.

How They Hack

Based on my conversations, here are some common workarounds children use in their attempts to bypass Apple’s Screen Time restrictions:

Changing the time zone. Setting the device to an earlier time zone can fool Downtime, the Screen Time function that prevents users from accessing a device’s apps after a preset time. Apple was supposed to have fixed this in iOS 15, but the trick sometimes still works on iPhones and iPads.

I tested it out on my daughter’s iPad Pro, which was running the slightly older iPadOS 15.5.I scheduled downtime to begin at 8:25 a.m. Pacific. At that time, all the apps went gray and I couldn’t open them. But when I changed the device’s time zone to Honolulu’s, three hours behind me in California—bingo!—I was able to open any app.

I updated the tablet to the latest version of iPadOS, 15.6.1, and the time-zone hack no longer worked.

Chris McKenna, founder of internet-safety company Protect Young Eyes, has been informing Apple of Screen Time hacks for years. When he scheduled downtime on his up-to-date iPhone and then changed the time zone to an earlier one, he was still able to access all his apps. (This might be because he is the admin for his Family Sharing group.)

An Apple spokeswoman said her team couldn’t replicate the time-zone workaround on an iPhone running the latest software, and neither could I.

Tapping for more time. After setting up a downtime schedule, parents sometimes forget to toggle on Block at Downtime. If that’s not turned on, kids can tap Ignore Limit and keep going.

Redownloading an app. When children reach their time limit on an app, they can remove it from their device and redownload it without parental approval. The app is then accessible until the next downtime period is scheduled. (This doesn’t work on the latest iPhone and iPad operating systems, based on my own testing, but several people told me it works on older versions).

You can prevent this by adjusting app permissions. In Settings, go to Screen Time > Content & Privacy > iTunes & App Store Purchases > Deleting Apps. Set that to Don’t Allow.

Screen recording. If you’ve set up Screen Time on your child’s device and your kid hands it to you to type in the Screen Time passcode, he or she can secretly record the screen by turning on the option in the control center. When you hand it back, there will be a video showing what you typed, says Claire Wang. She’s a high-school senior in Andover, Mass., who leads an online community for Hack Club, a nonprofit coding network for students.

Downloading software. TikTok and YouTube are full of tutorials on how to download programs for Macs and PCs that promise to bypass Screen Time limits without a passcode. They often require users to make an unencrypted backup of their phone while connected to the computer. One YouTuber advises kids to clear the computer’s browser history after installing the software so their parents don’t know they went to the website.

How well these programs really work—and whether they leave your phone vulnerable to malware—is something I didn’t want to test.

“No one truly knows what these applications indeed do or hold the power of doing,” said Joshua Kats, a former Hack Club member who’s now studying cybersecurity at Macaulay Honors College in New York. “There is also no proper way for parents to tell if their children downloaded these sorts of applications if the child deleted their traces.”

Turning to a burner phone. Some kids scrounge up a burner—either a prepaid cellphone or an old model dug out of a drawer or borrowed from a friend. Even without a data plan, devices can still get online via Wi-Fi.

What to Say to Your Kids

No matter how carefully you set up parental controls, children can always find new ways to get around them. That’s why Mr. McKenna, the internet-safety expert, suggests a trust-building approach with clear consequences for violations.

“It’s important to acknowledge to your kids that you know hacks exist,” he says. “Then you can say, ‘If you follow our rules, awesome, have a great time with the phone, but if you don’t, I’m telling you what will happen, and that’s your choice.’”

If you suspect your children have already figured out some kind of hack, Mr. McKenna recommends giving them one-time amnesty. He suggests saying something like, “Wow, I’ve set up Screen Time and either it’s not working right or you’re so smart, you’ve out-hacked Dad.” He says to tell them they won’t be in trouble this time, but if the kids don’t fess up, then maybe the device disappears.



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A Killer Golf Swing Is a Hot Job Skill Now

Companies are eager to hire strong players who use hybrid work schedules to schmooze clients on the course

By CALLUM BORCHERS
Fri, Jun 14, 2024 5 min

Standout golfers who aren’t quite PGA Tour material now have somewhere else to play professionally: Corporate America.

People who can smash 300-yard drives and sink birdie putts are sought-after hires in finance, consulting, sales and other industries, recruiters say. In the hybrid work era, the business golf outing is back in a big way.

Executive recruiter Shawn Cole says he gets so many requests to find ace golfers that he records candidates’ handicaps, an index based on average number of strokes over par, in the information packets he submits to clients. Golf alone can’t get you a plum job, he says—but not playing could cost you one.

“I know a guy that literally flies around the world in a private jet loaded with French wine, and he golfs and lands hundred-million-dollar deals,” Cole says.

Tee times and networking sessions have long gone hand-in-golf-glove. Despite criticism that doing business on the course undermines diversity, equity and inclusion efforts—and the fact that golf clubs haven’t always been open to women and minorities —people who mix golf and work say the outings are one of the last reprieves from 30-minute calendar blocks

Stars like Tiger Woods and Michelle Wie West helped expand participation in the sport. Still, just 22% of golfers are nonwhite and 26% are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

To lure more people, clubs have relaxed rules against mobile-phone use on the course, embracing white-collar professionals who want to entertain clients on the links without disconnecting from the office. It’s no longer taboo to check email from your cart or take a quick call at the halfway turn.

With so much other business conducted virtually, shaking hands on the green and schmoozing over clubhouse beers is now seen as making an extra effort, not slacking off.

Americans played a record 531 million rounds last year. Weekday play has nearly doubled since 2019, with much of the action during business hours , according to research by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom .

“It would’ve been scandalous in 2019 to be having multiple meetings a week on the golf course,” Bloom says. “In 2024, if you’re producing results, no one’s going to see anything wrong with it.”

A financial adviser at a major Wall Street bank who competes on the amateur circuit told me he completes 90% of his tasks by 10 a.m. because he manages long-term investment plans that change infrequently. The rest of his workday often involves golfing with clients and prospects. He’s a member of a private club with a multiyear waiting list, and people jump at the chance to join him on a course they normally can’t access.

There is an art to bringing in business this way. He never initiates shoptalk, telling his playing partners the round is about having fun and getting to know each other. They can’t resist asking about investment strategies by the back nine, he says.

Work hard, play hard

Matt Parziale golfed professionally on minor-league tours for several years, but when his dream of making the big time ended, he had to get a regular job. He became a firefighter, like his dad.

A few years later he won one of the biggest amateur tournaments in the country, earning spots in the 2018 Masters and U.S. Open, where he tied for first among non-pros.

The brush with celebrity brought introductions to business types that Parziale, 35 years old, says he wouldn’t have met otherwise. One connection led to a job with a large insurance broker. In 2022 he jumped to Deland, Gibson Insurance Associates in Wellesley, Mass., which recognised his golf game as a tool to help win large accounts.

He rescheduled our interview because he was hosting clients at a private club on Cape Cod, and squeezed me in the next morning, before teeing off with a business group in Newport, R.I.

A short time ago, Parziale couldn’t imagine making a living this way. Now he’s the norm in elite amateur golf circles.

“I look around at the guys at the events I play, and they all have these jobs ,” he says.

His boss, Chief Executive Chip Gibson, says Parziale is good at bringing in business because he puts as much effort into building relationships as honing his game. A golf outing is merely an opportunity to build trust that can eventually lead to a deal, and it’s a misconception that people who golf during work hours don’t work hard, he says.

Barry Allison’s single-digit handicap is an asset in his role as a management consultant at Accenture , where he specialises in travel and hospitality. He splits time between Washington, D.C., and The Villages, Fla., a golf mecca that boasts more than 50 courses.

It can be hard to get to know people in distributed work environments, he says. Go golfing and you’ll learn a lot about someone’s temperament—especially after a bad shot.

“If you see a guy snap a club over his knee, you don’t know what he’s going to snap next,” Allison says.

Special access

On a recent afternoon I was a lunch guest at Brae Burn Country Club, a private enclave outside Boston that was the site of U.S. Golf Association championships won by legends like Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. I parked in the second lot because the first one was full—on a Wednesday.

My host was Cullen Onstott, managing director of the Onstott Group executive search firm and a former collegiate golfer at Fairfield University. He explained one reason companies prize excellent golfers is they can put well-practiced swings on autopilot and devote most of their attention to chitchat.

It’s hard to talk with potential customers about their needs and interests when you’re hunting for errant shots in the woods. It’s also challenging if you show off.

The first hole at Brae Burn is a 318-yard par 4 that slopes down, enabling big hitters like Onstott to reach the putting green in a single stroke. But to stay close to his playing partners and keep the conversation flowing, he sometimes hits a shorter shot.

Having an “in” at an exclusive club can make you a catch. Bo Burch, an executive recruiter in North Carolina, says clubs in his region tend to attract members according to their business sectors. One might be chock-full of real-estate investors while another has potential buyers of industrial manufacturing equipment.

Burch looks for candidates who are members of clubs that align with his clients’ industries, though he stresses that business acumen comes first when filling positions.

Tami McQueen, a former Division I tennis player and current chief marketing officer at Atlanta investment firm BIP Capital, signed up for private golf lessons this year. She had noticed colleagues were wearing polos with course logos and bringing their clubs to work. She wanted in.

McQueen joined business associates on the golf course for the first time in March at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. She has lowered her handicap to a respectable 26 and says her new skill lends a professional edge.

“To be able to say, ‘I can play with you and we can have those business meetings on the course’ definitely opens a lot more doors,” she says.

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