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  • Translator: Leonardo Silva Reviewer: Mile Živković

  • "Girl, kill yourself."

  • "Why are you still alive?"

  • "You are so ugly."

  • Rebecca Sedwick,

  • an eleven-year-old girl from Florida,

  • received those mean, hurtful,

  • tormenting and embarrassing messages on her social media.

  • They would ultimately lead her

  • to jump off of her town's water tower

  • to her death.

  • In the fall of 2013,

  • I would come home from school to read that story.

  • I was stunned, shocked,

  • and I was heart-broken.

  • How could a girl younger than myself

  • be pushed to take her own life?

  • That's when I knew I had to do something

  • to stop this from ever happening again.

  • But the pain and the misery that Rebecca endured

  • had already happened.

  • The damage was done.

  • My name is Trisha Prabhu,

  • I'm fourteen years old,

  • and I'm from the great city of Naperville,

  • in Illionois, in the United States.

  • I'm passionate to stop cyberbullying

  • at the source, before the damage is done.

  • I'm a big dreamer, and I believe that everyone

  • should have the right to dream, persist in their dream,

  • and see that become a reality.

  • So, when I read Rebecca's story,

  • I immediately wondered,

  • "Were there any others like her out there,

  • that were suffering as well?"

  • I'd soon learn that she was one of a countless many.

  • Megan Meier died three weeks before her fourteenth birthday.

  • She hung herself in her bedroom closet

  • where her mother would find her

  • when coming up to get her for dinner.

  • She'd received messages like,

  • "The world would be a better place without you",

  • on her Myspace account.

  • The damage was done,

  • and Megan suffered the consequences.

  • Tyler Clementi was an eighteen-year-old student

  • at Rutgers University.

  • He was just getting used to college life

  • and his new gay identity.

  • One day, his roommate and a friend

  • decided to use a webcam and a laptop

  • to stream some of Tyler's most intimate moments with his boyfriend

  • all over social media.

  • The damage was done.

  • Humiliated, Tyler took his life,

  • jumping off of the George Washington bridge.

  • I wish more than anything

  • that I could rewrite those stories.

  • I wish I could make every perpetrator

  • rethink what they did.

  • But what if I could do that?

  • What if I could stop the damage before it was done?

  • Would Megan, Tyler and Rebecca still be alive today?

  • Cyberbullying is a huge problem.

  • 52% of adolescents in the United States alone

  • have been cyberbullied.

  • And 38% of them

  • suffered suicidal tendencies.

  • Let's look at it from a global perspective.

  • A quarter of the world's population are adolescents.

  • We're talking 1.8 billion teens.

  • Imagine that in the social media revolution;

  • how more and more of them are getting on social media,

  • and more and more of them are being cyberbullied.

  • So, why do you get cyberbullied?

  • Look, I might be biased, but I'm pretty sure

  • that kids are not mean devils that run around with cruel intentions.

  • I don't know about you, but that's what I think.

  • And what about adults? Are they nice or mean on social media?

  • Now, when it comes to adults, I wasn't really sure.

  • So, I had to do some research to figure that out.

  • So, that year, for my science experiment at school,

  • I decided to look at how age affected the willingness

  • to post offensive messages on social media sites.

  • What did I find?

  • This younger age group, ages twelve to eighteen,

  • was 40% more willing to post an offensive message

  • than an older age group.

  • OK. The number didn't surprise me.

  • But why?

  • Why was that younger age group

  • so much more willing to post an offensive message?

  • I started to do a lot of research,

  • and, one day, I came across an article,

  • and it had one sentence that would forever change

  • my view on this problem.

  • They said, "The adolescent brain

  • is likened to a car with no breaks."

  • High speed. No pausing.

  • No thinking. No considering.

  • We just act. So why is it like that?

  • Our brains are kind of weird.

  • They develop from the back to the front,

  • which means that our front part of the brain

  • is not fully developed until age 25.

  • Why is that a problem?

  • Well, prefrontal cortex

  • controls decision-making skills,

  • rash, impulsive decisions,

  • spur-of-the-moment feelings.

  • So, that's why adolescents don't think before they act.

  • They just go ahead and do something,

  • whether it's downing fifteen Red Bulls on a dare,

  • skipping an English final,

  • doing something crazy.

  • We don't really think before we do it.

  • Well, then I was venting about this to a friend.

  • I was like, "Gosh, you know, this is horrible."

  • And she said, "You know, Trisha, I really admire your passion,

  • but you've been talking about this for the last 15 minutes,

  • as if you had just discovered it.

  • It's a huge problem, but social media sites

  • are already doing stuff to stop this."

  • And I went, "Oh, yeah. You're right."

  • But I'd soon find that what social media sites are doing

  • is really nothing.

  • Their mechanism is a "stop, block, tell" method.

  • You stop what you're doing, through the victim,

  • you block the cyberbully

  • and you immediately go tell a parent or guardian.

  • It sounds pretty reasonable.

  • But here's what actually happens:

  • adolescents, we're kind of afraid to tell people

  • that we're being cyberbullied.

  • Research shows that nine out of ten times

  • victims don't tell anyone that they're being cyberbullied.

  • What's more, why are we putting the burden

  • on the victim to block the cyberbully?

  • Why aren't we changing the behavior in the actual cyberbully?

  • And it angered me.

  • There wasn't a single effective way to stop cyberbullying,

  • and it was a silent pandemic

  • that was affecting so many people around the world.

  • That's when I had an idea.

  • I know from my research that adolescents don't think

  • before they do things, right?

  • So, what if they didn't think before they type?

  • What if I gave them a chance

  • to think about what they were doing?

  • If an adolescent tried to post an offensive message on social media,

  • if I went, "Whoa! Hold on.

  • You're about to post an offensive message to someone.

  • That can really hurt them.

  • Are you sure you want to post this message?",

  • would they still be as willing to do it?

  • I had no idea, but I was ready to find out.

  • So that year, using my science and technology skills,

  • I created two software systems.

  • And basically, they were able to compare

  • whether an alert that prompted adolescents

  • to think about what they were doing

  • actually decreased their willingness to post offensive messages.

  • So, for four to six weeks, I basically lived at my local library.

  • All the kids were always giving me weird looks,

  • but, you know, in the end, it was totally worth it.

  • I was able to get 1,500 valid trials of data.

  • And what did I find?

  • 93% of the time when adolescents receive an alert that says,

  • "Whoa! You're about to post an offensive message",

  • they changed their mind.

  • I was able to decrease the willingness to post offensive messages

  • from 71.4% to 4.6%.

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

  • Think about that.

  • My research proved that rethink before you type,

  • rethink before you post,

  • rethink before the damage is done

  • is an effective long-term method to stop cyberbullying,

  • at the source, before the damage is done.

  • So Rethink has become insanely popular -- I'm glad to say.

  • Just a few weeks ago, I was at the Google Science Fair

  • for my research. I'm a global finalist.

  • And I also currently --

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • And I also currently hold a United States provisional patent for this idea.

  • So now, my main goal

  • is getting this out there as a product,

  • and stopping cyberbullying.

  • I'm currently working tirelessly

  • to create a Chrome extension browser

  • and a mobile add-on for mobile platforms.

  • That way, Rethink can go global

  • and stop cyberbullying before the damage is done.

  • Steve Jobs once said,

  • "Simple can be harder than complex.

  • Original, much harder than derived.

  • But when you get there, it's worth it,

  • because you can move mountains."

  • He is so right.

  • Rethink has proven that, in those few seconds,

  • when you decide whether or not you're going to hit "post",

  • those few seconds mean so much in the future.

  • So, whether you're about to post an offensive message

  • about the fat girl that sits ahead of you in your class,

  • or your annoying boss,

  • that can mean the fat girl's life,

  • or your job.

  • So, I encourage all of you:

  • rethink before the damage is done.

  • Very rarely in this connected world

  • do we remember, we need to slow down,

  • pause, think about what we're doing.

  • We're posting a message

  • and that has significance.

  • So, choose to rethink.

  • Rethink before you type,

  • before the damage is done.

  • Thank you.

  • (Cheers) (Applause)

Translator: Leonardo Silva Reviewer: Mile Živković

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B1 US rethink offensive post damage message social

Rethink before you type | Trisha Prabhu | TEDxTeen

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    鄭噓 posted on 2018/05/10
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