The reason 4 million Koreans downloaded this app is actually quite sad
We all get lonely from time to time, but when you start downloading imaginary friends on your phone so they can text you when you're feeling down, that's something to be concerned about. So when 4 million Koreans, mostly teenagers, download an app created specifically for lonely people, it signified that there's definitely a problem.
According to the World Health Organization, depression and loneliness are the top causes of illnesses in adolescents worldwide. If that's the case, the fact that 80% of all 4 million Korean imaginary friend app downloads were by teenagers is quite disconcerting. This app is definitely only for the lonely — it sends you back comforting text messages when the user expresses not-so-positive emotional states. If a kid writes that he's lonely or depressed, the imaginary friend writes back.
In a survey conducted by Seoul National University, 58.2 middle school students claimed that they had unstable relationships with fellow students, and one out of five were at risk for being bullied. And when you include the fact that these exact students have a hard time dealing with real interpersonal relationships, their loneliness makes them look to anything that can make them feel loved, even if it's an imaginary friend on a smartphone.
"People who feel lonely are desperate to find someone who sympathizes with them and reacts to what they say," said Professor Hwang Sang-min of Yonsei University. "It doesn't matter who talks to them -- they just want to hear something from anyone." Truly heartbreaking.
One of the app's young users stated, "I would like to chat with my real friends on KakaoTalk (a messenger service app), but I can't because I'm all by myself."
Sometimes being a kid sounds tougher than being an adult.