The anonymity of the internet, combined with sheer amount of time adolescents spend online has created a worrying culture of cyberbullying. Young victims of web-based cruelty often suffer from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, and are more likely to drop out of school. Now, ReThink is a simple solution that aims to proactively deter cyberbullying by prompting adolescents to reconsider offensive posts before they send them.
ReThink is a non-intrusive software that uses a context sensitive filtering technology to flag up offensive messages. The system confronts the user with a pop-up ‘ReThink Alert’ that reminds them that their message may be offensive to others and asks if they want to reconsider. This gives the writer a chance to reflect without blocking or lecturing them. Users can still proceed with the post if they wish but research has found that less that 10 percent do.
ReThink was founded by teenager Trisha Prabhu, who was inspired by the tragic suicide of an 11 year old cyberbulling victim. Prabhu and her team undertook extensive research and found that, when using ReThink the desire of an adolescent to send a bullying message dropped from 71 percent to four percent. ReThink is currently available for free as an Android app and is available as a ‘community edition’ for schools or districts. Could the ReThink system be applied to adults, and integrated into major social networks such as Reddit and Twitter to help cut down trolling?