TextNow logo (white text alert in purple circle)

Lifestyle

Is TextNow Safe? An App Review for Parents

Overall Rating:
⭐ 1.5 / 5

Updated June 21, 2024

Overview

Overall Rating: ⭐ 1.5 / 5

Recommended Age: 15 and up

TextNow is a messaging app that provides users with a free phone number for calling and texting. It focuses on keeping communication affordable for its users, which can be a great resource for families who want to keep in touch with loved ones but don’t want to break the bank. The app also works across various devices —including tablets — for parents who don’t want their child to have a phone yet.

 

Users must connect to Wi-Fi to message for free, or they can purchase a SIM card and use a limited amount of free data to call and text. Extra data can be purchased, and international call rates vary. TextNow also offers coupons for various products and services. Even though it’s not a social media app, users can connect with anybody, not just other TextNow users.

 

While TextNow is an affordable communication service, there are still some important things to understand before giving your child access to the app. Here’s what you should know.

 

Harmful Content 😲

Rating:

TextNow uses ads to keep their services affordable. While these ads are generally not explicit, they aren’t monitored, and removing them requires an additional purchase. Users can also send GIFs, which can display inappropriate content.

 

TextNow users can message or call anyone with a phone number (not just other TextNow numbers). They can also send and receive images and create group chats.

 

TextNow also recycles old account numbers, so there’s the possibility of your child receiving messages and images from unknown numbers. As with any messaging app, especially those that offer group chats and media sharing, there is always the risk of bullying and sharing inappropriate content.

Predation 🚨

Rating:

Since TextNow uses real phone numbers, your child could be added to group chats or messaged by predators on the app. Users create their own profile, so it may not be clear that your child is messaging someone with harmful intentions. Because the app allows users to contact nearly anyone in the world, the potential for predation is high.

 

TextNow occasionally requests to verify a user’s identity if they are attempting to regain access to an account, but this is not mandatory for all TextNow users. There are also options to block accounts and report harassment, but there are no steps in place to prevent harassment on the app.

Positive Value 💙

Rating:

TextNow offers basic calling and texting for free. While the app is certainly an affordable option, it offers little to no monitoring or privacy features. Any app that allows Bark to monitor messaging would be safer.

Privacy 🔒

Rating:

TextNow offers privacy features like end-to-end encryption, where conversations remain only between the recipients, and two-factor authentication, which means  verification is required before signing into an account on another device. While these features are nice, there is still the ability for anyone with access to your child’s TextNow number to message them. Your child can also be added to group chats without approval.

Parental Controls ✅

Rating:

There are no monitoring or control options for TextNow. Parents would need to directly access their child’s TextNow account to monitor content and messages or change the app settings. While numbers can be blocked and content reported, there are no proactive steps to help keep users safe on the app.

 

Bark can help you stay in control by letting you:

  • Block the TextNow app completely, if needed.
  • Manage when your child can use TextNow throughout the day.

So, should my kid download it?

Not until they’re older. While TextNow is a basic, affordable messaging app, there are little to no content monitoring features or proactive safety features. It can be a helpful app for older children to keep in touch with parents and trusted friends and family, but could become a risk for younger children who lack maturity. Bark can provide parents with additional safety features and peace of mind while their child uses the TextNow app.

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