What a fantastic idea – a local teenager is programming an add-on (pdf of the article here) for Google Chrome called “Rethink.” It provides a pop-up warning whenever someone tries to post a potentially harmful or offensive message on social media.
Rethink is intended for teenagers, with the intention of cutting back on cyberbullying. The programmer, Trisha Prabhu, started the project after reading about a cyberbullyed teenager who committed suicide. Prabhu noticed that the more social media accounts someone has, the more likely they are to post offensive comments. She also made an interesting connection between brain development and age – the area of your brain that helps control impulses and consider outcomes is not fully developed until age 25. So younger people may post something cruel without thinking through the consequences. Rethink adds a step that allows you to, yeah, rethink, before posting. It simply asks, did you really want to post that potentially offensive comment?!
Prabhu tested Rethink on a group of 300 students and the results were successful – originally, 71% were willing to post the offensive message, but after they saw the pop-up warning, they decided not to post it, 93% of the time (the phrases used that trigger the pop-up are from the Cyberbullying Research Center). Next steps for Rethink – present it at the Google Science Fair!
Reading this article made me think about so many things:
- I hope none of the young people (or people, period) in my life have to deal with cyeberbullying. Or are cyberbullies.
- Gosh, I am happy social media did not exist to the extent it does now, when I was in high school. It causes so much drama for adults; I can’t imagine what it’s like for kids.
- I think this add-on is a great idea for teenagers… and could think of some adults who could use it, too.
- I “rethink” a lot on my own – draft whole posts, never post them. Draft emails, never send them. Don’t comment on something. Highly edit comments. Add emoji to try to convey if I am joking or whatever. It’s so easy to misread online! Because of all that rethinking though, I never regret when I hit “send,” “post,” “comment” or whatever.
- The brain development point is interesting – I am a highly compulsive person by nature, and I do think that my compulsiveness have improved a bit in some areas as I’ve gotten older. Ha. I hope.
- These cyberbullying comments seem to be more directly insulting – “you’re ugly,” “that’s stupid,” etc. How about an add-on for the indirect judgy comments that adults throw at each other?
Do you think this add-on is a good idea? Do you feel like you are good at thinking things through before you post/comment?