Shah Rukh Khan: Have you ever been saying something nasty about someone on a message and inadvertently sent the message to the person you were being mean to? Or posted something when angry and regretted it the next minute? Or tweeted about something that hurt someone, made them upset and then later felt awful for doing that? Why did I do that?
On TED Talks India Nayi Soch, our youngest speaker, Trisha Prabhu, thought: Can we stop the hurtful words before we actually post them? She thinks yes, we can stop this. So today, from Chicago, USA, Trisha is here to tell us how we can stop the words before they cause any harm.
Please welcome our young innovator and social entrepreneur, Trisha Prabhu.
Trisha Prabhu: My parents are from India. But I was born in America. I was born and brought up there and am studying there. I was just 13 when I read about a young girl named Rebecca who had committed suicide. She was just 12 years old at that time. Younger than me, when she took her own life. The reason? Repeated cyber bullying.
In the cyber world and social media, she was tortured in different ways. She was troubled. I felt awful when I learnt about this. Even felt anger. A girl younger than me was forced to commit suicide. And at that moment I decided that I will definitely, surely do something about this.
As you know... anything said on social media cannot be taken back, just like an arrow that’s left a bow doesn’t come back. And sometimes it becomes a danger to a human life. After Rebecca’s suicide, I created an app, ReThink: an app that lets you pause and gives you a chance to think again before you say something, just think it through once again.
I am 17 years old and I am from Chicago. I am a change agent. A social entrepreneur. I look for solutions to problems in society and for betterment of the world. So that nobody troubles anyone in cyber world. Nobody harasses. Stop something harmful before it occurs: that is my mission. My app ReThink gives you the chance to take back your words. I have found a way to press a small break. A thoughtlessly written message that is going to hurt someone can be reviewed and thought through.
For instance, if a student is about to post a message saying "Your face is very ugly," ReThink will catch this message and ask you, “Please stop, do you really want to post this?” When this slight break happened, most teenagers changed their mind and did not post the message. I did a study for the ReThink project with 300 teenagers, who were 12 to 18 years old. 150 teenagers were randomly given ReThink. And another 150 had a system with no such alert. In five trials, those teenagers were sent harmful messages and then asked if they would like to post it on social media. When I saw the results, I was surprised. Results revealed that 93 percent of the teenagers who had ReThink decided not to post the messages.
But in the other group, which did not have ReThink, only 32 percent of those teenagers decided not to post the messages. So ReThink stopped a hurt before it could happen.
In 2012, Microsoft did a survey with kids between eight and 17 years of age. This survey, across 25 countries said that India stands at number three when it comes to online bullying. 53 percent of kids in the survey reported that they were victims of online bullying. The most worrying thing is that they don’t tell anyone about this bullying. They quietly suffer this pain, this hurt. This disease of the new digital age is rapidly spreading, and now is the right time that parents and teachers in India come out and talk openly about this problem. People who get hurt in the cyber world face psychological distress. They fall in their own eyes. Sometimes, the problem becomes so acute that children start harming themselves, Just like Rebecca.
ReThink is not just a technology; it is a movement. A mission. Against people in cyber world who threaten, bully, and trouble others. Do not blame the victim, the one who is being hurt. Come join me. Against every hurtful message. Before other children lose their lives. Please, please, Rethink.
SRK: Thank you very much, Trisha for being with us. A big round of applause for the beautiful Trisha Prabhu.