Site Offers Online Counseling for Teensposted by MR WAVETHEORY at 11/25/2006 06:36:00 AM
A youth portal that has counsellors keeping a watchful eye on online activities is proving a hit among teenagers.
Since it was started two years ago, the portal eGen (www.egen.org.sg) — short for "electronic generation" — has grown from 1,500 users last year to 3,450 now.
Set up by a youth centre under Fei Yue Community Services, the portal offers users, aged between 13 and 25 years old, an online platform where they can talk, vent and rant.
Said 15-year-old Joanna Soon: "When you get into the family of eGen, you get to know the regular bloggers, and although you don't know them personally, they help you with your problems, not like those on other chat boards, who can be perverts."
She first started using eGen last year after hearing about it in a school assembly session.
Initially she joined in on general topics, such as what she did during the holidays and to ask for shopping tips.
Once the trust is established, she moved on to bigger problems, like boy-girl relationships — a topic she is reluctant to share with her parents or teachers.
"Parents might not really understand you, even though they have gone through all of that," she said, adding that a teacher once told her mother about her problems with a boy after she had confided in her. "I didn't trust her after that."
Within eGen — one of SingTel's Touching Lives Fund beneficiaries this year — she finds a protective environment where moderators can step in if there is abuse.
"You get solutions and you can choose from there what you think will help. On the other blogging sites, a lot of people can spam you. But it's more controlled and safer on eGen," she said.
According to Ms Joyz Tan, social worker and publicity coordinator with eGen, the portal runs about 15 counselling sessions a week on average.
"Online counselling is an alternative resource to face-to-face counselling for Internet-savvy youth and young adults who may be embarrassed to seek counselling face-to-face," she said.