New iPhones possibly putting children’s safety at risk, experts say

New iPhones possibly putting children's safety at risk
Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 7:20 AM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - If you’re getting your child an iPhone for the holidays, there are some new features on the newest software that you need to know about, experts say.

Starting with the basics, newer iPhone models operate under iOS 16. The new software allows you to “unsend” or “edit” a text within iMessage, Apple’s message and texting app.

“That’s a breeding ground for abuse that then disappears,” says cyber expert Titania Jordan, the chief parenting officer of Bark Technologies and the author of “Parenting in a Tech World.”

Her company created Bark, a parental control app that monitors what kids’ are doing online or on smartphones. The new Apple technology, she says, may not be the best choice for kids. “Apple iPhones are not the best, first, safest smartphone for children,” she cautioned.

Any iPhone user with the new software can unsend a message up to two minutes after its sent and edit a message for up to 15 minutes after its sent.

Though edited, the original message can still cause problems. “There are things that can happen that can change children’s lives in a negative way that will go away if they don’t take a screenshot and capture that evidence,” Jordan says.

Bradenton Police Det. Carl Jones, who works within the department’s Digital Forensics and Electronic Crimes unit, says the new software presents challenges. “It’s going to make it harder ... having to recall messages for parents when something happens.”

Jones and Jordan both have issues with the new collaborative “notes” feature. “It’s the digital form of passing a note back and forth in class,” Jones said.

“Two or more kids can be writing in the same notes app, essentially turning it into a notes app or a social media platform,” says Jordan.

If that’s not enough, iPhones also can have a “hidden folder” for photos and videos within the photos app.

“The hidden folder itself can be hidden, even on the albums. It does not even show the folder exists. But, the content in the folder is still there,” Jones said.

The list of new features goes on and on, so before you even wrap the phone for Christmas, Jones says activate the phone and set parental control features before you wrap it.

And after your child opens their gift, you both should know the passcode to get into the phone.

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