This post is sponsored by TextNow, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I remember when I was a kid, I could just wander the neighborhood and ask people if they can play, or just head to the park on my bike. There was no such thing as texting and calling service for kids! We live in a very different world now, and parents want to be able to get a hold of their kids when they are away from home.
Additionally, most parents no longer have a landline or “home phone” at their house. When the parents go out on a date or end up having to work late, their children are unable to contact anyone in case of an emergency.
Adding a child to the phone service you already subscribe to can be extremely expensive, and not worth it for how often the child will need access to the service. Many parents opt to hand over an older device that doesn’t have cell service so their children can use the phone while they are at home. Unfortunately, this method usually only lets your child use the service when they have access to WiFi. It won’t help when they are at the park or other places that don’t have wireless internet.
TextNow (available on Android or iOS) has always had a great way for kids to text standard phone numbers when they have access to wifi. We installed it on one of my old phones for my 10-year-old about a year ago, and have loved being able to use it. They get a real phone number that you can text through the app installed on the phone. There is no subscription fee, but there are ads.
Now you can get FREE nationwide text and talk without wifi
The company recently announced that it is improving its service even more by offering an ad-supported FREE Nationwide Talk and Text service. This means your old unlocked phone will work even when there is no access to wifi with the TextNow app, FOR FREE! Again, this is ad-supported, so there will be ads inside the app when you use it for texting or calling.
If you are uncomfortable with ads, you can actually activate TextNow’s paid service for either $10/month or $100/year. You can use the free ad-supported version or the paid subscription with any unlocked CDMA compatible Android or iOS phone. The most well-known CDMA network is Sprint, so if the phone is compatible with Sprint, it will work with the TextNow free service.
How TextNow can protect your kids from online danger
One of the most common questions I get, constantly, is what device can parents purchase that will only allow calls and texts. They don’t want their child to have access to the internet or apps. Many people mistakenly recommend flip phones, which have full access to the internet, or very limited devices that don’t allow GPS or text monitoring or control.
When you activate the FREE text and talk features from TextNow on a device the service does NOT include data. You can also choose to not include data with the paid version. This means your child will only be able to make calls and text friends and family. Without wifi, they won’t be able to download or use other apps. You can lock down the internet to the device on your home network as well using a router with parental controls built-in.
With these two layers covered (no internet on the phone when they are using wifi, and no data) you can rest a little easier knowing that your child won’t be able to get to the internet or apps you don’t want them to access. It’s a good idea to also put a parental control app on the phone itself so they are protected when they are on other wifi networks as well.
Other applications for TextNow’s FREE Nationwide Talk and Text
Honestly, this service doesn’t just help parents who want to give their kids a way to contact them. It helps me as a business owner as well! I have always wanted to separate my business phone number that is posted on my websites from my personal cell. I get enough spam calls as it is. However, I’ve never wanted to pay for an extra line on my current service. I really wouldn’t use the phone enough to justify the cost.
With the new service offering from TextNow, I can add a phone number to the old iPhone I use for testing purposes, and voila… business phone number! Not only does this help reduce the number of spam calls to my real cell phone, but it allowed me to separate my personal Venmo account from my business one since it requires a real phone number to create an account.
There is no cost to try out the service on an old phone you already own, so feel free to download the TextNow app on Android or iOS and check it out for yourself. You may just end up liking it so much you’ll save yourself a few hundred dollars a month and switch all your lines over!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com