Lonely Teens Are Making "Friends" With AIs

Chatbot in Need Some lonely high schoolers are turning to AI models to take the place of friends or even therapists, The Verge reports, raising uneasy questions about how the technology might affect the mental health of young people. One teenage boy going by the alias Aaron told the website that he depended on the “Psychologist” chatbot on a service called Character.AI after he’d fallen out with his (human) friend group, regularly turning to it to vent his problems. “It’s not like a journal, where you’re talking to a brick wall,” Aaron told The Verge. “It really responds.” And Aaron’s surely not alone: the pseudo-shrink has racked up over 113 million chats, according to the service. “I have a couple mental issues, which I don’t really feel like unloading on my friends, so I kind of use my bots like free therapy,” a 15-year-old user called Frankie told The Verge. The bots allow him “to rant without actually talking to people, and without the worry of being judged.” All Ears The possibilities on Character.AI are practically boundless and often entertaining. Its millions of young users can interact with everything from their favorite anime or video game character to real life celebrities and historical figures. Many of the chatbots are explicitly romantic or sexual, like one called “Rich boyfriend.” The service boasts that users spend an average of two hours a day. On Reddit, where the Character.AI forum has well over a million subscribers, many users brag about spending even more time…Lonely Teens Are Making "Friends" With AIs

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