Textfree Unlimited

Common Sense Media says

Free alternative (with ads) for text-message junkies.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
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15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Set-up and operation are intuitive -- and chatting with friends is a breeze, though you'll have to give out a different number than your mobile device's.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The price for a free way to text is to be subjected to a frequent stream of banner ads at the bottom of the screen, which are easy to accidentally click as you're typing a text message. To hide the ads, you'll have to pay a $5.99 annual fee.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

There's no way to block incoming texts, which means anyone who gets your TextFree number can send you SMS messages. The app's "help" section has horror stories from several users who were allegedly harassed by strangers. You also stay logged in, meaning if you lose your device, strangers can text your friends under your name.

 

The app assigns users a random phone number to text from, so there is a barrier to keep people from contacting you directly. (Calls to that number get an automated recording from TextFree -- which sends you a text alerting you to the call.) The system also requests an email address for notifications and to help you reset your password.

 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Textfree Unlimited is a workaround for kids and tweens who don't have a cell phone, but still want to text with their friends (and who covet the all-important phone number). It's also a way for iPhone users to lower the text charges on their monthly bill. The app assigns a random phone number, making it compatible with SMS providers. It's very ad-intense, though -- and if you want to do away with the commercials, it will cost $5.99 per year. As with any texting program, the messages (and the level of acceptability of those messages) received by your child depends greatly on the sender. The app does not accept sent pictures, though, preventing your child from receiving inappropriate images.

Parents say

Kids say

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Today's phones are often used more for texting than calling -- and the costs of those SMS messages can add up quickly. TEXTFREE UNLIMITED lets people text as much as they want without causing a spike in their phone bill. The reliability of the app is pretty solid. We didn't encounter any "dark" periods when testing, regardless of time. Receivers always got their messages promptly and their replies were just as speedy. The volume of ads is annoying, though -- and tacking on a recurring annual fee to a free app feels a bit iffy. (The app used to carry a one-time charge of $5.99 for no ads.) Parents will still need to monitor who their kids are texting and what's being said, but for the budget conscious, this is a good alternative.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Subscription price:$5.99 per year to eliminate ads
Release date:August 9, 2010
Category:Social Networking
Publisher:Pinger, Inc.
Version:3.5.1
Minimum software requirements:OS 3.2 or later, Android 2.1 and up

This review of Textfree Unlimited was written by

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What parents and kids say

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written bysweetiepiecy November 30, 2013
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Not appropriate for anyone under 16!!!

Its great that my 10 yr old daughter can text me, but she started getting random msgs from people/men with very inappropriate things. One msg talked about drugs and another msg from someone else talked about fu*$king c*@ts. Anyway, point is, we've tried many different text apps, and they are all the same, anyone can txt you. Can someone invent an app where only your contacts can msg you, please!
What other families should know
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpielberg00 August 4, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Not for all ages.

My 9-year-old sister won't get off this. She comes home every day and when my mother asks her to do her chores, she says, "Hold on! Let me check my texts!" And then now that they have CALLING it's JUST LIKE a phone, when she's not even allowed to have one. AND it's totally free. This app is taking her out of her real life (she texts during movies and many other family activities, which angers all of us.) What I personally think is that Textfree should be an app for only people who have phones already, as an alternative for people who don't have unlimited texting--not for the ones younger than that who can't really handle a cell phone. I say off for ten and under, because anyone who gives their kid a cell phone before the age of 11 is probably either an idiot or a downright bad parent that doesn't know how much trouble kids can get in with cell phones. Their excuse is, "Well, I can just check my kid's texts to make sure nobody's hurting their little feelings!" My answer is, "Have you ever heard of the 'delete' option? It's a really neat invention where KIDS DELETE TEXTS SO THEIR PARENTS ONLY SEE THE GOOD THAT'S GOING ON IN THEIR LIVES!!!!!!"
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bycommon.sense101 August 19, 2012
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Stranger Danger

What's to stop creepers from texting my kid? I found messages from a multiple phone numbers linked to text-free they aren't appropriate conversations and my kid doesn't know these people in real life...
What other families should know
Safety and privacy concerns

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