ChildLine creates smartphone app for young people

Date: 22nd March 2017
Category: General principles
Author: NSPCC

The NSPCC's ChildLine service has launched an app that is the first to provide counselling to young people in the UK directly through their smartphone.

The 'For Me' app allows young people to chat one-to-one with a counsellor, has a problem page, a daily mood tracker and a function to record their personal thoughts.

The idea for the app came from four teenagers who said there was an urgent need for young people to have easy access to confidential advice and support.

It is now available from the iOS app store with an Android version due to be released in the coming weeks.

Matt Forde, national head for NSPCC Scotland, said: "Launching the For Me app shows how we're continuing to capitalise on new technology to give children and young people the easiest possible access to ChildLine's free and confidential advice and support.

"Its development will enable our younger generation to tap directly into ChildLine's expanding range of services through their mobile phone whenever and wherever they need our help."

When ChildLine first launched 30 years ago all contact was over the phone, with many calls being made from telephone boxes.

Now 71% of counselling sessions across the UK are delivered online via email and 1-2-1 chat, with the majority of the remaining counselling sessions being conducted with a young person via their mobile phone.

Last year, 1.8 million sessions on the ChildLine website were conducted via mobile devices.

Children as young as seven told ChildLine counsellors how they were being tormented and abused by malicious and hurtful messages from which they felt there was no escape.

The comments posted on their social media profiles, blogs and online pictures ranged from bullying and abusive words about how a young person looked, to death threats and in the most extreme cases directly telling them to go and kill themselves.

The app has been named For Me to ensure that it can be discreetly installed on mobile devices, meaning that if someone happens to see the phone they can't tell that it's a ChildLine service.

The app was developed in partnership with Barclays who funded the production and brought on board a team of young apprentices to work on its creation.

Laura Hindle, who is one of the team who invented the app, said: "I am so proud to see 'For Me' in the app store and hope it will really make a difference to people our age who are struggling.

"Our initial ideas for the app came about during a school lesson when we were thinking of ways to make technology benefit the community.

"Watching the idea evolve into a reality has been quite a journey and it's great to see the finished product ready to help young people.

"Let's hope the app goes from strength to strength by offering invaluable support in such an accessible format."