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Apple Screen Time app limits not working

I’ve used screen time for my kids to limit time on certain apps. It worked well for years, but now I will set the limits and then they will suddenly disappear after a day or even less. Other settings also get erased including downtime and content restrictions. I have changed the passcode and the kids swear they have not tried to change any settings. This issue started about two months ago. I have updated iOS on all the devices. I have turned screen time off and set up settings again. I have tried setting the limits from my device as well as the individual devices. My kids will spend too much time on their phones without limitations in place and creates repeated bouts of anger for my wife. Please help!

[Re-Titled by Moderator]

iPhone 14

Posted on Dec 19, 2022 6:41 PM

Question marked as Best reply

Posted on Jun 8, 2023 6:25 AM

Apple - You HAVE to fix this!!! This is a safety issue for children. I am pretty close to swapping my whole family to Android because I can't worry that my kids are getting into stuff online that they shouldn't. I know they are accessing things they shouldn't and I have no way of keeping them safe online unless this gets fixed or I just take away their phones. DO BETTER!!!

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368 replies
Question marked as Best reply

Jun 8, 2023 6:25 AM in response to Drmorin

Apple - You HAVE to fix this!!! This is a safety issue for children. I am pretty close to swapping my whole family to Android because I can't worry that my kids are getting into stuff online that they shouldn't. I know they are accessing things they shouldn't and I have no way of keeping them safe online unless this gets fixed or I just take away their phones. DO BETTER!!!

Jan 12, 2023 11:09 AM in response to Drmorin

I've read several topics on this issue now and I can't believe the only response so far from Apple is a link to a standard tutorial of how to set up limits. It's clear we all understand perfectly how the settings work and most people here, including me, tried lots of things to solve it. It's clear there is a major issue in the software with this. I've been having the same problems for weeks now and it keeps coming back. Why doesn't anyone of Apple properly respond to this?

Jan 24, 2024 2:34 AM in response to Drmorin

Apple has now publicly admitted that there is a problem with screen time. I have had an open ticket with them for over two years they are well aware of the problem

I can screen record my phone going in and deleting old screen time settings, set up new ones, and the next day every thing will be back.

I have canceled all of my business orders and I won’t be buying another Apple product until they sort this out. It’s an extreme danger for kids and it’s completely irresponsible.

Jan 21, 2023 9:55 PM in response to KathyTexas

No- apple has not fixed this. I had a scheduled call with apple today but they never called. I had to make three different calls to finally connect with someone long enough to fully discuss the situation. The other calls mysteriously dropped…

I was told they are working on it and to watch for an update.

I asked how Apple was informing consumers about this situation, which puts children at risk, and they responded that because it’s only impacting some people, they don’t want to say anything until they have a fix, so they don’t freak people out. I clarified that she was telling me it is apple’s practice to not inform consumers about known safety issues, even if it means children may be harmed. She confirm do that they don’t inform consumers of issues until they have a solution. I told her that I have reached out to media. Apple should be ashamed for knowingly putting children at risk.

Jan 9, 2023 12:48 PM in response to Tgarrett07

That's....horrifying. A fundamental parental control feature is clearly breaking and the solution from Apple is to revert to factory settings on all family devices?! Do better, Apple.

We've now updated every phone/ipad in our house to the latest iOS version, and we're still hitting the same issue. If I'm going to have to wipe every device to maybe solve the issue, I might as well just sell them and move to Android.

Dec 31, 2023 6:19 AM in response to Drmorin

I have been dealing with this issue for 2 years and have contacted Apple support at least 5 times with no solution. They really really do not care and in the meantime my teens mental health has continued to deteriorate as we struggle to keep him off his screen excessive amounts. My friends with Android devices do not have this issue and we are at the point where we are considering switching our family over, as much as a pain as that would be.

with billions of dollars of cash sitting in the bank you would think that they would invest adequate resources into solving the greatest crisis facing families in children in history, yet they continue to do nothing. It’s just evil and greed.

Jan 29, 2023 2:39 PM in response to Drmorin

Ugh, the Screen Time glitch issue. We had problems with this on my iPhone, until a little over three years ago when I turned 18 and my parents changed my account status from “child” to “guardian”. Now at that point I no longer used Screen Time limits, but I had younger siblings who did (still do) so I began to look into the cause and solution to this issue. Here are the steps I took to fix the issue. (I know some people are going to look at the first step and say “already tried that, didn’t work” but hear me out.)

  1. Reset the child’s device… but make sure to do a backup first! No need to completely erase it and set it up again from scratch - that DIDN’T help. All you’re doing is wiping it to clear away any corrupted files and persistent bugs in the software causing errors. So, Run. A. Backup.
  2. Once it’s reset, restore from the last backup, which will bring back everything as it was before/as you set it up. If you set up restrictions and Screen Time limits, these will appear as expected.
  3. This is the hardest one according to most people I’ve spoken with, not to mention inconvenient. Try NOT to change restrictions/screen time settings of the child’s device. Every time you do, you run the risk of confusing the system again, which will result in limits disappearing or restrictions not taking effect. Because of this we took care to restrict only what was completely necessary so that we wouldn’t have to constantly make changes to allow full functionality when it was required.
  4. I advise avoiding the “reward” method: “You were well-behaved today, so I’ll postpone DownTime for an extra hour this evening and give you 20 more minutes on your YouTube time limit.” After a few times of this, you’ll find the system is messed up again. Instead, our family started implementing a physical “phone away” time (9:00 PM in our case), and on good-behavior days, the kids are allowed to use their phones for an extra hour or two. In no case do we allow use after 11:00 PM, so DownTime is set for 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM. Of course this will vary from family to family, but the goal here is to minimize changing Screen Time settings if possible. And as kids get older and more mature and certain restrictions become unnecessary, we’ve removed them as needed, which did result in two or three times of the settings getting messed up, but in that case we just reset and restored the phones again.

I know that this method, especially numbers 3 and 4, is unsatisfactory compared to the ideal: the system working as intended and not having problems. However, since that isn’t the case, this has been the second-best option for us and will continue to be until Apple gets this patched up.

I hope this helps.

Nov 8, 2023 2:09 PM in response to Drmorin

The same thing. The only advice from Apple support I got was to reset all my devices, which is not acceptable - there are 5 devices in a family and, according to people from this thread, the fix will work only until the next iOS update.

Shame on Apple - paying 1k per device, paying for family subscriptions and then get has such problems makes me think twice about the brand of the next phone, tablet or laptop.

Jan 17, 2023 7:57 PM in response to Chris_V89

Same issue here. This has been happening for months. I have reset my kids App Limits at least 20 times and they still disappear after several days. I’ve updated the passwords and I know my kids aren’t circumventing the controls. The cynic in me suspects that Apple may not want our kids time spent on their devices to be limited. Fixing this clearly is not a company priority.

Feb 16, 2024 10:33 PM in response to Drmorin

i’m so upset with this problem. We gave our son an iPhone for his birthday and it is impossible to control his screen time. With android and google we experienced no such problems. I’m so frustrated that we buy a much more expensive phone than Samsung and now our lives are controlled by bad software. It should not be an option for children to ignore boundaries. You will destroy lives this way apple. And make more Samsung costumers. Google has no such option. We will switch back if this is not fixed.

Jan 7, 2023 8:11 PM in response to AndiWhitts

We've been hitting the same issue for about 2 weeks. We've used Screen Time to limit the amount of time our daughters get on their iPads each day for years. After an hour, they have to ask for more time. Since around Christmas, it's stopped working. When my wife and I go into our Screen Time settings, there are no restrictions in place for either of our daughters. Every time we add restrictions again, they vanish by the next day. Every time. The feature is completely busted right now.

Jan 13, 2023 5:15 AM in response to Drmorin

I’ve contacted apple and the problem is resolved by doing the below steps:

  1. Turn off screen time for the device that is needing to be blocked for downtime (childs device)
  2. Make sure all pictures have synced with iCloud or they will be lost (scroll to bottom of photos app to check if any pending) sign out of iCloud on all devices that can either approve screen time requests or have screen time limitations (child and parents)
  3. reset the same devices (not erase content, just reset all settings by going to settings > transfer or reset iPhone > reset > reset all settings)
  4. sign back in to iCloud on all devices
  5. turn screen time back on and set downtime limits
  6. everything should be working normally now and stay as is

Jan 8, 2023 3:09 PM in response to Drmorin

We’ve been fighting this for months.

4 devices (2 parents, 2 kids).

We’re all on the same iOS version (16.2 - right now) but the problem has reoccurred with every version since July-ish.

We’ve factory reset and reconfigured all 4 devices.

We’ve removed and re-added each child to our family account.

I’m at a loss here. I’m not a Google fan but at least FamilyLink is a working and stable product. This isn’t acceptable and we’re clearly not alone here. Apple’s lack of response and transparency is very disappointing.

Apple Screen Time app limits not working

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