Teen’s Science Project Aims To Halt Cyberbullying

A Chicago teen has received international acclaim for her science project, which was designed to reduce cyberbullying. The project, titled Rethink, is a finalist in the 2014 Google Science Fair competition. Trisha Prabhu, age 13, said Rethink will encourage teens to reconsider posting hurtful comments online.

Trisha hypothesized that adolescents and teens often post derogatory comments without considering the consequences. Rethink would force users to “pause, review, and rethink” what they are sharing via social media.

The product was designed to be used in conjunction with numerous social media sites and applications. Although the science project is expected to have an immediate impact on cyberbullying, Tricia further outlines several long-term benefits.

In her proposal, Tricia Prabhu suggests the product will help adolescents and teens learn decision-making skills. If the users become accustomed to rethinking their actions, the project could encourage them to make better decisions “in the real world as well.”

Tricia backed up her hypothesis with research into cyberbullying, as well as adolescent and teen behavior. As outlined in the proposal, nearly 50 percent of all adolescents and teens have experienced bullying through social media.

The proposal also cites studies conducted by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:

“… adolescents’ (12-18) brains function differently than adults when decision-making and problem solving… adolescents are more likely to act on impulse and are less likely to pause and think to consider the potential consequences of their actions before they act.”

Tricia’s science project aims to halt cyberbullying by reducing impulse behavior. To prove her hypothesis, the teen conducted a total of 1,500 trials. At the conclusion of the trials, Tricia determined Rethink was effective in reducing the number of hurtful posts:

“… out of the 533 trials that reported initial willingness to post mean/hurtful messages, 93.43 percent of those trials decided to not post mean/hurtful messages after a rethink-alert.”

As bullying has become an epidemic throughout the United States, the 13-year-old girl’s project offers hope. If adolescents and teens are forced to stop and consider their behavior, they may realize the devastating impact of bullying.

As reported by First Post, Tricia Prabhu is one of 18 finalists in the Google Science Fair competition. The winner, which will be announced in September, will receive trips to Virgin Galactic Spaceport and the Galapagos Islands. The grand prize also includes a $50,000 scholarship.

If her cyberbullying science project wins, Tricia will use the scholarship to study neuroscience.

[Image via Shutterstock]