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.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Booming demand for wellness tourism shows no slowing, with travel related to health and well-being projected to have reached $1 trillion last year and to hit $1.3 trillion by 2025, according to the Global Wellness Institute, a nonprofit based in Miami.
Curated wellness travel programs are especially sought-after, specifically holistic treatments focused on longevity. Affluent travellers not only are making time to hit the gym while gallivanting across the globe, they’re also seeking destinations that specifically cater to their wellness goals, including treatments aimed at living longer.
“I believe Covid did put a spotlight on self-care and well-being,” says Penny Kriel, corporate director of spa and wellness at Salamander Collection, a group of luxury properties in places like Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina. But Kriel says today’s spas are more holistic, encouraging folks to understand the wellness concept and incorporate it into their lifestyle more frequently.
“With the evolution of treatment products and technology, spas have been able to enhance their offerings and appeal to more travellers,” Kriel says.
While some growth is connected to the variety of treatments available, results and the digital world are also contributing to the wellness boom.
“The efficacy and benefits of these treatments continue to drive bookings and interest, especially with the support of social media, influencers, and celebrity endorsements,” Kriel says.
While genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, a diet free of processed foods, sufficient sleep, and human connection play essential roles in living well and longer, experts believe in holistic therapies to help manage stress, boost immunity, and ultimately influence length and quality of life.
Anti Ageing and Beyond
“For years, people have been coming to spas, booking treatments, and gaining advice on how to turn the clock back with anti ageing and corrective skin treatments,” Kriel says. However, today’s treatments are far more innovative.
On Marinella Beach in Porto Rotondo, on the Italian island of Sardinia, guests at the five-star Abi d’Oru Hotel & Spa can experience the resort’s one-of-a-kind “longevity treatment,” a unique antiaging facial using one of the island’s native grapes: Cannonau. The world’s first declared “Blue Zone”—one of five designated areas where people live longer than average, some into their 100s—Sardinia produces this robust red wine varietal, the most widely planted on the island.
Known as Garnacha in Spain and Grenache in France, Cannonau supposedly contains two to three times more antioxidants than other red-wine grapes. By incorporating Cannonau, Abi Spa says its unique 50-minute longevity session increases collagen production for firmer, younger-looking skin.
Maintaining a youthful appearance is just one facet of longevity treatments, which range from stress-reduction sessions like massage to nutritional support and sleep programs, Kriel says. Some retreats also offer medical services such as IV infusions and joint injections.
Keeping with the trend, Kriel is expanding Salamander Collection’s existing spa services, such as detox wraps and lymphatic drainage, to include dedicated “Wellness Rooms,” new vegan and vegetarian menu items, and well-being workshops. “Sleep, nutrition, and mindfulness will be a big focus for integration in 2024,” she says.
Skyler Stillings, an exercise physiologist at Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort—an adults-only wellness centre in Lanai, Hawaii—says guests were drawn to the social aspect when the spa opened in November 2021.
“We saw a huge need for human connection,” she recalls. But over the past few years, what’s paramount has shifted. “Longevity is trending much more right now.”
Billionaire co-founder of tech company Oracle Larry Ellison and physician and scientist Dr. David Angus co-founded Sensei. After the death of a mutual close friend, the duo teamed up to create longevity-based wellness retreats to nurture preventative care and a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the Lanai location, the brand established Sensei Porcupine Creek in Greater Palm Springs, California, in November 2022.
Sensei has a data-driven approach. The team performs a series of assessments to obtain a clearer picture of a guest’s health, making wellness recommendations based on the findings. While Sensei analyses that data to curate a personalised plan, Stillings says it’s up to the guests which path they choose.
Sensei’s core three-day retreat is a “Guided Wellness Experience.” For spa treatments, each guest checks into their own “Spa Hale,” a private 1,000-square-foot bungalow furnished with an infrared sauna, a steam shower, a soaking tub, and plunge pools. The latest therapies include Sarga Bodywalking—a barefoot myofascial release massage, and “Four Hands in Harmony,” a massage with two therapists working in tandem. Sensei Guides provide take-home plans so guests can continue their wellness journeys after the spa.
Sanctuaries for Longevity
Headquartered in Switzerland with hotels and on-site spas across the globe, Aman Resorts features an integrative approach, combining traditional remedies with modern medicine’s advanced technologies. Tucked behind the doors of the storied Crown Building in Midtown Manhattan, Banya Spa House at Aman New York—the brand’s flagship spa in the Western Hemisphere—is a 25,000-square-foot, three-floor urban oasis.
Yuki Kiyono, global head of health and wellness development at Aman, says the centre provides access to holistic and cutting-edge treatments benefiting physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. Aman’s customisable “Immersion Programs” consist of a three- or five-day immersion. “The programs encompass treatments and experiences that touch every significant aspect to create a path for longevity, from meditation and mindfulness to nutrition and movement,” Kiyono explains.
The spa’s “Tei-An Wellness Solution” features 90- to 150-minute sessions using massage, cryotherapy, and Vitamin IV infusions. Acupuncture is also on offer.
“With its rich history of Chinese Medicine, modern research, and the introduction of sophisticated electro-acupuncture medicine, acupuncture has been proven to assist with problems and increase performance,” Kiyono says.
Resetting the Mind and Body
Beyond longevity, “healthspan”—the number of years a person can live in good health free of chronic disease—is the cornerstone of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat’s program in British Columbia, Canada.
Kirk Shave, president and program director, and his team employ a holistic approach, using lifestyles in long-living Blue Zones as a point of reference.
“We improve our daily lifestyle habits, so we live vitally as long as we’re meant to live,” Shave says of the retreat. He built the program from an anthropological stance, referencing humans as farmers, hunters, and gatherers based on their eating and sleeping patterns. Food includes vegetable-centric meals sans alcohol, sugar, bread, or dairy.
Guests wake at dawn each day and have access to sunrise yoga, several hours of “flow” or slow hiking, spa treatments, forest bathing, calming crystal singing-bowl and sound therapy sessions, and classes on stress reduction—one of Mountain Trek’s primary goals. The program motivates people to spend much of their time in nature because it’s been proven to reduce cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to inflammation and disease when elevated for extended periods.
While most guests aren’t aware of how immersive Mountain Trek’s program is when they arrive, they leave the resort revitalized after the structured, one-week program. Set in the Kootenays overlooking its eponymous river, the resort and adventure promise what Shave calls a “visceral experience of transformation.”
“They’re interested in coming to be in nature,” Shave says of the guests. “They hit a wall in their life and slipped backwards, so they know they need a reset.”
This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’