Although social support is important for health and well-being, many young people are hesitant to reach out for support. The emerging uptake of chatbots for social and emotional purposes entails opportunities and concerns regarding non-human agents as sources of social support. To explore this, we invited 16 participants (16–21 years) to use and reflect on chatbots as sources of social support. Our participants first interacted with a chatbot for mental health (Woebot) for two weeks. Next, they participated in individual in-depth interviews. As part of the interview session, they were presented with a chatbot prototype providing information to young people. Two months later, the participants reported on their continued use of Woebot. Our findings provide in-depth knowledge about how young people may experience various types of social support—appraisal, informational, emotional, and instrumental support—from chatbots. We summarize implications for theory, practice, and future research.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (https://chi2021.acm.org/)