The Text Me app offers free texting, calling, and additional phone numbers. In our experience, students will download apps like this so that they can hide their activity from their parents (since it won’t appear on their phone bill). Additionally, the Text Me app offers location sharing features which can be incredibly dangerous for students.
What is the Text Me app?
- The Text Me app offers free texting, calling, and additional phone numbers
- Users can send texts (as real SMS) to any phone in the U.S. or Canada
- By using the app, users earn points that let them voice or video call any phone in the U.S.
- On the Text Me app, users can send picture or video messages
- Users can send unlimited text, voice, image, and video messages for free
- Video calls are free if both users are calling through the Text Me app
- Group messaging is also available on the app
- Users can use the location sharing feature to share their device’s location with their friends
- On the Text Me app, users can generate new phone numbers they can share with others
- Voicemail is also available on the app, so if someone calls a Text Me number they can leave a voice message
- Users can be notified if their message has been delivered or read
- Text Me also offers a premium subscription
Teen cell phone statistics:
- 95% of teens report they have a smartphone or access to one
- These mobile connections are fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis
Source: Pew Research Center
Why should parents care?
- In our experience, students will download apps like Text Me so that they can hide their activity from their parents (since it won’t appear on their phone bill)
- Even if a user doesn’t have a cellular plan, they can make calls and send texts using the app
- Text Me offers location sharing features which can be incredibly dangerous for students
- Apps that use location sharing make it easy for predators to target children. It’s easy for predators to pretend to be kids to learn where children live, where they go to school, and the locations they visit frequently
- The app offers in app purchases, so if you haven’t set spending guidelines for your family then costs can add up over time. Additionally, the app encourages students to earn more points by watching ads, inviting their friends to use the app, or playing games within the app
- Text Me does not support 911, so it’s important for parents to teach their kids to use the call function built into their phones if there is an emergency
- Some users have reported that they consistently receive random calls and messages from strangers on their Text Me app phone number
The Text Me app in the news:
Text Me is a messaging app that provides users with a virtual ‘burner phone’ number for anonymous texting and calls. Text Me is not safe for kids to use because it encourages anonymous texts and calls from a burner number, which cannot be tracked. Anonymity opens the opportunity for bullying and harassment, since those receiving the calls and texts have no idea who they are from. Some of the advertisements that pop up in the middle of text windows are questionable for young kids, including dating apps, violent video games, and dieting ads.–Zift
What can parents do?
- Visit SmartSocial.com to learn about apps like this before the news reports on them
- If your student has the Text Me app, have them delete it and encourage them to use their cell phone number (or direct messaging on a SmartSocial.com Green Zone App)
- Discuss how the Text Me app can be dangerous, doesn’t positively add to their digital footprint, and doesn’t do anything their phone can’t do
- Consider creating a Family Cell Phone Contract to set guidelines with your children before giving them access to a phone
- Ensure that your children know that they cannot use the app to call 911 in an emergency
- Set spending guidelines (these are great to outline in your family cell phone contract)
- Make sure your children understand the responsibilities and consequences that come with having a cell phone. Regularly discuss why you’ve set certain screen time guidelines
- Talk to your children about the dangers of location sharing and how predators use this feature to target victims
- Remind your children to keep their message Light, Bright & Polite™ (even if the messages was intended to remain private) because it’s easy for anyone to screenshot their message and share it publicly on social media
When students use apps like the Text Me app, in our experience it’s to hide their activity from their parent’s phone bill. Instead, students should focus on using apps that positively add to their digital footprint. Since the app offers location sharing services and users have reported regularly receiving calls and messages from strangers, we do not recommend this app for students.
Do your kids have the Text Me app? Comment below to let us know how you keep them safe!