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Naperville teen’s project takes her to the White House


A teenager from Naperville has designed a computer program to give potential cyber bullies second thoughts before posting hurtful messages.

While positions at the 2015 White House Science Fair were hard to obtain, Trisha Prabhu earned hers with the cyberbullying project. Prabhu, a freshman at Neuqua Valley High School, developed a computer program that recognizes when an outgoing message contains content that could be considered emotionally abusive or hurtful, before alerting the user.

The concept of the program, dubbed Rethink, is based on research that the human brain does not reach its decision-making potential until age 25. That is the age when the region of the brain designated for this purpose becomes fully developed. This led Prabhu to design a way to alert teens when they might need to reconsider their online behavior.

The consequences for a teenager’s behavior are often more far reaching and important than they are able to appreciate. Rethink, like ACT tutoring, is for Naperville teenagers a way to give them the extra help they need to avoid some of the pitfalls of adolescence, enabling them to live up to their potential.

Preliminary analysis revealed that youngsters who were alerted by Rethink to give a message they were about to send a second thought were 93% less likely to send abusive content, compared to those who were not given a heads up.

Prior to attending the fifth White House Science Fair, which was hosted by President Obama on March 23rd, Prabhu’s innovative project earned her a place at the 2014 Google Science Fair.

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