The Internet is filled with many trolls, and one young scientist has figured out how to stop them… some of the time, at least. Trisha Prabhu is just 13 years old, but she already has a study that got her a spot in Google’s 15 Global Science Fair finalists, and it’s quite an interesting one. Prabhu wants to put a stop to cyber-bullying by making teens and tweens rethink the things they want to post online that may be hurtful to others. In short, she’s appealing to their conscience to prevent annoying messages from being posted online.
Prabhu’s project is called exactly that – Rethink – and it’s a system that would filter messages that may be hurtful to others and ask posters whether they actually want to go through with the message they initially wrote.
In her Rethink study, she proved that 93.43% of adolescents decided not to post mean or hurtful things after being alerted to rethink the contents of their messages.
The young scientist explains that “cyber-bullying is an online form of bullying, that research shows may result in depression, low self-esteem and in rare cases suicides in adolescent victims(12-18).”
“Research shows that, over 50% of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and 10 to 20% experience it regularly. Research also shows that adolescents that post mean/hurtful messages may not understand the potential consequences of their actions because the pre-frontal cortex, the area of brain that controls reasoning and decision-making isn’t developed until age 25,” she wrote in the project’s summary.
A Rethink tool that would be included in soclal networks, apps, sites and comments systems might also help prevent older trolls from cyber-bullying practices, not just the younger ones that she’s targeting. And the 13-year old appears to be interested in going forward with this project in the future.
“My idea is to create a scalable product that works with existing social media sites/apps and easily adapts to any new social media sites/apps that may come up in future,” Prabhu wrote. “My design includes a sophisticated context-sensitive filtering system that catches truly ‘mean/hurtful’ message and works with social media site on web/mobile platform. I am looking forward to a future where we have conquered cyber-bullying! “