Utah woman works with Apple on child safety upgrades for iOS 16

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah County mother of five played a major role in creating security measures included in Apple’s latest software update.

Apple’s global rollout of all of its latest and greatest products took place on Wednesday morning. This includes the new iOS 16 which powers iPhones and tablets.

This new software, which will be made available to all Apple users on Monday, will include child safety changes that will make it easier for parents to protect them from harmful products.

“It’s been an incredible process,” said Melissa McKay. She has worked for years to bring about change.

“Seeing these changes rolled out and understanding that more children will be protected because of the work we’ve done – I can’t imagine a better feeling and I’m just a stay-at-home mom,” McKay said.

It was 2019 when McKay teamed up with national organization Protect Young Eyes and the National Center for Sexual Exploitation and sent Apple executives a letter outlining 10 critical fixes for iOS software. Now, three years later, many of those changes are real.

“I can’t tell you how momentous that is. Because if you look at the iPhone, about 90% of kids are going to own an iPhone at some point. And so they’re really the guardian of the innocence of childhood,” McKay said.

“To see a win like this is gratifying,” said Chris McKenna, founder of Protect Young Eyes. He has the beta version of the software and showed KSL-TV how easy it is for parents to change settings for their children.

“When you add children to your family and Family Sharing, if you say your child is 6, you’ll get defaults that protect a 6-year-old child. If you say your child is 12, you’ll get defaults that are for a 12 year old instead of having to go in and change a bunch of stuff,” he said. “In the past, a parent just had to go get all these toggles and turn it on by themselves. Now it says, ‘Hey, if your kid’s that old, let’s just do these good logical things to keep them safe.’ ‘”

Senator Mike Lee has also worked with McKay and Mckenna over the years to sound the alarm in Washington and meet with Apple executives to make this happen.

“This is great news,” Lee said. “Through a number of phone calls, meetings, and letters in which we’ve communicated this with various technology leaders. We’ve highlighted an issue, and it’s an issue that’s starting to be resolved.”

The new iOS 16 software will be available to all iPhone users on Monday.

McKay and McKenna said the job was still not done. They still want to see some changes to the child rating system on Apple’s apps and more controls for texting kids.

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