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Lonely Teens Chat with Imaginary Friends

imaginary-friendsAs stress and social pressures become seemingly more daunting for teenagers, many of them are turning to a special smartphone application for comfort. More than four million people have downloaded an app by Jang Tae-gwan that allows users to type messages to a computer like “I’m depressed” or “I’m lonely,” and the computer will respond with a comforting message of reassurance. The whole thing is encased in a package that makes it seem like you are on a messaging service chatting with one of your real-life friends. The Jang says that 70-80% of the people who downloaded the app have been teenagers. Experts are saying that this is a reflection of the social difficulties in making and maintaining relationships in real life for young Koreans today. You can create “friends” that have different personalities and roles like friend, boyfriend, and girlfriend. While the app is mostly in Korean, the “imaginary friend” can respond with some limited English. In Korean, the app is called “가짜톡” and can be found in the Google Play store.

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