Parents' Guide to


By Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Sound info and discourse about mental and sexual health.

Selfsea: Logo and name on the opening page.

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What you will—and won't—find in this app.

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The app doesn't always provide a deep dive into topics -- a good portion of the content is on external sites -- but it doesn't shy away from tough-to-talk-about subject matter. Losing a loved one, bullying, abortion, and BIPOC mental health are all items Selfsea covers. Under subject headings like Body Image, which contains information on body dysmorphia and learning to love yourself, kids can click on items that link to external resources -- such as a list of 10 ways the Anti-Defamation League suggests people can respond to bullying, or a brief Vimeo clip of a teen explaining why he has experienced communication issues due to ADHD. In addition to reading about topics, teens can digitally converse through the app's communities, which involve similar topics.

The app is upfront about what it can offer -- and what it can't. Described as a safe space where young people can "gather the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices and support one another," in a welcome note, the app states it's not intended to replace medical or professional care. The non-profit organization that developed Selfsea has included a couple of notably admirable amenities, including the ability to essentially block content that might trigger you in some way by checking off terms such as eating disorders or abuse from a list. The first-person narrative videos and message board conversations help make the subject matter relatable -- and it's a more engaging way to absorb it than by just reading basic background information about identity and mental and physical health that teens could find elsewhere. As with any user-based community, there's always the chance you could receive a hurtful response or bad advice. But the app's posting guidelines outline several principles teens seem to take seriously -- such as not posting inappropriate comments, including "hurtful sarcasm," along with more overt statements like "that's dumb." Interactions within the app's communities are largely enthusiastic -- teens chime in to other teens' posts to offer empathy, constructive advice, and compliments. The app seems to still be building up an array of available content. It has only been in existence for 8-9 months, though, so more may be added in the future. But the curated content that is available to read or watch right now on Selfsea is generally positive, informative -- and worth checking out.

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