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No, Apple Doesn't Care About Your Kids.


girl looking a phone sadly

Apple had its annual pep rally for its next software release earlier this week, the World Wide Developers Conference (“dub-dub”.) Enthusiasts and techy folks from literally all over the globe traveled to Cupertino to ooh and aah over the bells and whistles coming with the next major iOS update—18. 


I was watching the live feed as the presenters started walking through all of the feature updates coming, and the whole thing just made me feel gross. Not a word was said about improved safety for minors. It’s not that I hate Apple products (I use them), but more so that I am unbelievably frustrated with a trillion-dollar company (with 87% of the teen market share) that will not put adequate resources into making their products safe for kids and families… especially when they give parents and families empty promises that they are doing so.


Apple, we don’t believe you. Here’s why.



Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an article detailing what families who use Apple products have suspected or known for a while: Screen Time parental controls are still deeply flawed. Aptly put by WSJ’s reporter Joanna Stern, “Apple’s Screen Time has seen more bugs than a soda spill on a summer day.” Some of the low-lights are below:

  • Time restrictions set correctly suddenly do nothing, giving kids unlimited access to addictive apps.

  • Unreliable reporting on actual time used (sometimes showing a big fat zero)

  • Downtime randomly doesn’t work, kids stay up on devices.

  • Unreliable permission notifications for a child asking to download an app

  • Unreliable auto-updates for iOS updates (updates are critical to all of the above working correctly); missed updates cause ScreenTime to be wonky.

  • Safari’s web content restrictions preventing pornography and other dark content can be circumvented by putting certain characters in the search bar (this bug was reported to Apple 3 years ago by researchers… Apple did nothing).

  • Permanent permission—kids can back to deleted apps easily through the App Store without asking permission again (this is a feature, not a bug, but pointing it out because it’s one of the biggest safety flaws affecting families). Click here to join others who are asking for this feature to be retooled.


Again from WSJ’s Stern, “The system used to protect Apple’s youngest users feels like an afterthought.” Apple replied to Stern that it addressed several of the issues above in the last few iOS Updates, specifically 17.5. Um, hogwash. It’s still happening and we are on 17.5.1. To add insult to injury, in the slated list of Apple features getting improvements in iOS 18, Screen Time isn’t even mentioned. Huh. Almost like it’s an… afterthought.


Hey Apple, why don’t family and kid safety improvements in Screen Time make your list?


Other iOS 18 features parents should be aware of in iOS18

I also unpacked these on the Chris Hand Radio show as well, if you want to take a listen.



  • Locked and Hidden Apps: users will be able to password-protect individual apps from opening or even being seen on the phone or iPad. (Creative techies have been using Shortcuts to do this for some time, but now it’s very simple and widely advertised.) It’s still unknown if parents will be able to forbid this feature from being enabled, but parents could AND SHOULD put their own Face ID or fingerprint into any device they are managing in their family. And then of course you’ll have to know how to block your kid from deleting your Face ID or fingerprint by not allowing “FaceID and Passcode Changes” in Screen Time settings (pictured here). And then of course you pray that Screen Time doesn’t break so you can make sure your block holds. See how many problems this presents? May this remind you that Apple makes products for ADULTS.


  • Eye Tracking: Users will have the option of not having to touch their screen to select a feature or menu item, they will be able to navigate to the proper icon or word with their eyes and BLINK. As a human, I just hate this idea except for those who don’t have use of their arms or hands… for everyone else, this feels super creepy. For me, hard pass. It’s unknown, but my guess will be parents can turn this off. Whether or not they can LOCK that toggle is the question.


  • Tap to Cash: Those who use Apple Cash will now be able to pay a vendor not in their contacts just by bringing their iPhones in proximity to one another. Great for buying peaches from a stranger at the Farmer’s Market, not great for moms and dads concerned their teens might use it to purchase weed from a rando. (I know this sounds paranoid, and I’m sorry, but I’ve helped too many parents with these kinds of issues so I see through the lens of “worst case scenario.”)


  • Satellite iMessage: Text messages will be able to be sent and received even without wifi or data, using satellite. While I love this for my camp counselor role because I can only get wifi in one building when I’m at summer camp, and it makes leader-to-leader communication tricky, I don’t love this for the families who have been trying to ease into iMessage years by having limited wifi-only capabilities. So now, in theory, your kid could have the family iPad in the car on a trip and though there is no wifi or data available, iMessage would still be active and able to connect. I’m guessing (hoping) parents will be able to turn this off.


  • Apple Intelligence: This is not rolling out to everyone. Just iPhone 15 Pro, iPad Pro, and Mac Sequoia. New writing and proofreading tools, plus Chat GPT integration with Siri are some of the features they are touting. How these features will be exploited by kids and teens? Time will tell. 



What to Do

For now, parents everywhere should keep in mind that Apple devices are made for adults. There are great kid-safe phones and they are all Android. We know Apple has the resources and innovation to solve the child safety problems with their products, but they clearly don’t have the will. 


Spread the message far and wide, the iPhone should not be a first phone. It is far too complex and risky, and you will find yourself falling into the same trap that millions of other parents have, thinking it can be made safe. Start with a phone like Bark… totally customizable to your kid’s maturity and to where your grace level is as a parent. Not ready for group texting? No problem, turn it off. Only want basic talk/text? Done. Or do you have a tricky situation that requires more connectivity but you want to get notifications on any problematic use (bullying, profanity, depression)? They do that too. When your kid is an adult-in-training (16+) and you’ve logged some serious wins on a starter phone, then I think you could re-evaluate joining the Apple universe.



We’ve got to shrink the 87% Apple market share, parents. This is on us. Let’s come together and put our kids’ long-term health over their short-term desires. Also, someone find me the stat of how many 30+ parents are working at Apple.


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