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7 Cups: Anxiety & Stress Chat
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
7 CUPS: ANXIETY & STRESS CHAT connects teens with volunteer listeners with whom they can share what they are going through and feel heard while maintaining anonymity and confidentiality. The app offers a platform for teens age 13 to 17 and another platform for users 18 and older. The sign-up process requires that kids choose one of those platforms, register with an email, and create a username. Teens will be able to browse listener profiles to find someone they relate to, or they can request to be assigned a random listener to chat with. Teens can also connect with peers and volunteer listeners through community specific forums and chat rooms. The app offers over 35 communities representing a variety of social, emotional, and mental health topics. Users can flag posts considered to have inappropriate content and posts that promote self-harm or suicide. The mindfulness section offers teens a list of guided meditations to choose from. Simply press play and follow the prompts. Teens can also become volunteer listeners at age 15, with parental consent, by completing the registration process, which includes completing an online active listening course and creating a listener profile. Access to a licensed therapist and other personalized features require a subscription. Push notifications and email preferences can be managed through settings.
Is it any good?
Although on-demand access to volunteer listeners may help teens who are struggling with mental health challenges feel supported, limited professional presence and oversight makes it potentially risky. Sharing challenges that may be difficult to discuss with family and friends through an anonymous platform sounds appealing. There's a clear sense of community among the app's users and positive, motivating, and reassuring posts dominate most chats. Teens may find useful takeaways in other users' posts. So while the experience may be therapeutic for some, there's no way for families to ensure that teens in crisis or coping with social, emotional, and mental health issues are receiving appropriate messages from volunteer listeners and peers. There's a lack of trained therapists or medical professionals in the free version of the app, and teens themselves can become volunteer listeners, providing support to other struggling teens, after a fairly simple registration process. Although the site clearly states that it's not an adequate service for those considering suicide or self-harm, there's no way to filter the information that users exchange, other than flagging posts that contain inappropriate content. Some of the stories shared in the forums detail things such as physical abuse, succumbing to eating disorders, and relapsing into self-harm, which some users may find disturbing or too explicit. Teens coping with mental health issues may find the amount of information in the chat rooms and across the variety of communities to be overwhelming. The overall tone of 7 Cups: Anxiety & Stress Chat is supportive and positive and clearly promotes a sense of community, but the number of troubling posts and the lack of oversight may lead to a potentially damaging experience for some teens. If parents think their teen might benefit, it's best to also have in-person professional support and to check in around the teen's experience using the app.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the types of support that a digital app like 7 Cups: Anxiety & Stress Chat can provide versus the care and support that medical staff can provide to address emotional and mental health. Although the app is a platform that allows teens to share what they are going through with volunteer listeners, it's important to keep in mind that it does not replace professional support and medical care.
Talk about habits, such as practicing mindfulness, which may help develop self-awareness and promote the communication of feelings, ideas, and challenges in a productive manner.
Discuss the difference between helpful sharing and support and a forum to breed negativity. How do you feel coming away from this experience? Do you feel connected and hopeful, or does the experience reinforce negative feelings?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Skills: Self-Direction: goal-setting, personal growth, self-reflection
Emotional Development: handling stress, identifying emotions, labeling feelings, moving beyond obstacles, perspective taking, self-awareness
Communication: conveying messages effectively, listening
Health & Fitness: meditation, mental health
- Price: Free to try
- Pricing structure: Free to try ($3.99 in-app purchase for upgrade; subscription $12.99/mo., $94.99/year)
- Release date: February 20, 2019
- Category: Health & Fitness
- Size: 14.40 MB
- Publisher: 7 Cups of Tea, Co.
- Version: 4.5
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 9.3 or later; Android varies with device
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