In 2013, Trisha Prabhu read a news story that broke her heart — a 12-year-old girl had taken her life after experiencing cyberbullying.
Prabhu was only 13 at the time and couldn’t understand someone younger than her taking her own life. However, instead of processing her shock and moving on, she decided to do something about it.
“I started thinking about what I could do to stop this from ever happening again,” writes Prabhu in an email.
The inner workings of the brain had always fascinated Prabhu, so she decided to research adolescent behavior as it relates to cyberbullying for a science fair. What she found was startling — adolescents are 50% more likely to impulsively post hateful things online than adults because the part of their brains that makes decisions isn’t fully developed yet.
Armed with that knowledge and her coding skills, Prabhu began working on an app designed to fight cyberbullying.
She called it ReThink.
According to her research, if given the chance, adolescents will change their minds and not post a hurtful message 93% of the time. With the help of her teachers, her parents, and endless Googling, Prabhu developed the ReThink app, which detects a hateful message before it’s sent and gives the creator the option of deleting it.
The app is now available for most smartphones and tablets, and so far, over 3,000 schools have adopted it. Not only has it received an overwhelmingly positive response from parents, students, teachers, and law enforcement officials, it has been awarded scientific merit by Google, MIT, Northwestern University, WebMD, and even the White House. Today, Prabhu is traveling the world, speaking out against cyberbullying and advocating for STEM education, especially for young women. At only 17, she’s certainly an innovator to watch.
That’s why she’s one of the 2017 Tech Impact AllStars. Presented by NationSwell and Comcast NBCUniversal, Prabhu is one of five social innovators who are using technology to solve problems in their communities.