15-Year-Old Created An App To Fight Cyberbullying

By keeping us connected, the internet and social media have certainly made the world feel like a smaller place. But access to the world 24/7 can also mean never disconnecting completely from others, even if it can be harmful and toxic. Sadly, social media is being used as a way to bully others. For quite some time, cyberbullying has been a problem, especially for youngsters.

Studies show that 59% of teenagers have gone through some form of cyberbullying at least once in their lives. However, screen time for this age group keeps increasing, particularly due to all the students engaged in online learning because of the pandemic. If the internet time cannot be cut down, what can be done as a solution to cyberbullying?

Gitanjali Rao, a 15-year-old student from Denver, Colorado, used the technology to tackle a modern-day social problem by developing an app that would help detect cyberbullying. She developed an application called ‘Kindly’ to increase awareness and help deter cyberbullying right where it originates: online.

She wrote a twitter post which was linked to a blog that described her involvement with technology as a way to solve societal problems: @UNICEF is aiming to make a difference in today’s society by looking at the word “reimagined” after these uncertain times. To join in on the effort, I wanted to share my perspective on cyber-safety.

Rao is a promoter of STEM and has won numerous awards such as “America’s Top Young Scientist.” She was also featured in the Forbes “30 under 30 list.” She is continuously searching for ways to better the education, environment, quality of life and she shares her experience on the internet.

Rao developed equipment to detect lead in water, poisonous snake bites, and also published a book. At the age of 12, she appeared on “The Tonight Show” showcasing how her creation “Tethys” worked impressing Jimmy Fallon. Supposedly, at the same time, she is working on more than one issue. Her twitter post says that currently, she is developing personal protective equipment for schools.

This is how her latest software works. The Kindly app and Chrome plugin monitors speech using natural language processing and advanced artificial intelligence. When anyone installs Kindly into their web browser or phone, the software will read the text entered in the computer and check for trigger words and phrases automatically.

For instance, suppose a person types anything like, “I am going to hurt you in school,” the plug-in or app will display an alert of bullying and prevent the user from sending the text. In a way, it offers people an opportunity to pause and think before sending bullying messages on the internet.

Rao’s recent tweet says, “It’s our turn to make a difference in society and to do what’s best for our peers, I wanted to share this with you to empower all of you to make a change in your life about how you use technology. One kind message, one person saved from suicide, and one person feeling safer on the internet is a success for all of us.”

The app is available for free download through the website. It is not available on the play store or app store because it is presently in its incomplete beta phase. Thus, it is available on the website for free download and is seeking feedback. One should also notice and beware that there are several other websites with a similar name to this one.