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Teen's Science Fair Project Is a Genius Plan to Fight Cyberbullies

Illustration for article titled Teens Science Fair Project Is a Genius Plan to Fight Cyberbullies

This really puts those popcorn-kernel tests and baking-soda volcanos in perspective: One teen decided the science fair was a great opportunity to test out a new method for battling cyberbullying.


The annual Google Science Fair just selected its 15 global finalists, and the Verge reports that among them was 13-year-old Trisha Prabhu. See, she had a theory:

I realized I could use my science & technology skills to effectively prevent cyber-bullying "at the source" (before it occurs). I hypothesized that if adolescents (ages 12-18) were provided an alert mechanism that suggested them to re-think their decision if they expressed willingness to post a mean/hurtful message on social media, the number of mean/hurtful messages adolescents will be willing to post would be lesser than adolescents that are not provided with such an alert mechanism.


So she built the mechanism, then recruited 1,500 volunteers and asked whether they'd be willing to post a series of hurtful messages online. In her "baseline" control group, 67 percent were down to troll; among participants forced to pause and reconsider by Trisha's "Rethink" system, the share fell below five percent.

Of course, bullying is vastly more complicated than simply saying whether or not you'd post a message someone else has handed you, as part of an anonymous science experiment. But maybe she's on to something! And regardless, it warms the cockles of my shriveled heart to think there are teenagers actively working toward a solution, rather than sitting around watching Vine videos. Good for you, Trisha.

Photo via littleny/Shutterstock.

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Kids like this make me not so scared for our future. *applauds Trisha*