MENTAL HEALTH

Anti-bullying app matches teens with someone to sit with at lunch

girls having lunch at school istock

 (iStock)

Long before Mean Girls made “you can’t sit with us” a ubiquitous lunchroom line, teens everywhere were hearing it from their local plastics. In fact, who you sit with at lunch can be pretty stressful if your BFFs don’t have the same lunch period as you, or if you haven’t found your crew yet.

Since no one needs extra school-related stress, one California teen decided to use her tech skills to fix lunchroom worries. Huffington Post reports Natalie Hampton, a 16-year-old from Sherman Oaks, California launched a new app called Sit With Us, which matches people with someone to sit with at lunch.

Natalie started the app because she was bullied in middle school and had to eat alone all the time, according to the app’s about section.

“Apart from the verbal taunts and violence, one of the worst things was having to eat lunch alone, and the embarrassment of having others see me eating lunch alone,” Natalie wrote in the app’s description. “After I changed schools, whenever I saw someone eating lunch alone, I would always invite the person to join the group. Each time, the person's face would light up, and the look of relief would wash over the person's face. Some of those people have become some of my closest friends.”

Sit With Us has students designate themselves as ambassadors, which allows them to invite people to sit with them at lunch. A student in search of a table can go on the app and match with an ambassador and sit right down. That way, Natalie told NPR the process is private and you know you won’t be turned away when you sit down.

This could be a huge help for so many teens. Since bullying is known to increase the likelihood of depression and other mental health issues for both people being bullied and their bullies, offering people who might be bullied for eating alone a place to go avoids a big risk. It’s also just kind. Kindness isn’t found everywhere in middle and high school, so this app goes a long way toward spreading good vibes.

If you need a place to sit, or you’re open to someone sitting with you, start a chapter at your school and download the app. Hopefully it will catch on.