95th Street Library Hosts Trisha Prabhu Author Visit

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Naperville native Trisha Prabhu recently made a stop at the 95th Street Library to discuss her new book “Re-Think the Internet: How To Make The Digital World A Lot Less Sucky.”

“There are so many resources out there for educators, for parents,” said Prabhu. But this book is for kids by a young person that takes them through the key digital literacy concepts they need to take on the Internet.”

When Prabhu was 13, she read the story of Rebecca Sedwick, a 12-year-old girl from Florida who died by suicide after being cyberbullied. To stand up to online hate and make a change, Prabhu invented the app ReThink. The app forces users to stop, review and rethink the message they are about to post.

Research shows that when teens are prompted to do so, their willingness to post offensive messages is reduced from 71% to 4%. Today, ReThink has reached 5.5 million students, has over 500,000 downloads, and is available in six different languages.

When COVID-19 struck, Prabhu used her knowledge to write “Re-Think the Internet” to help both children and parents navigate the treacherous waters of social media.

“Kids spend a lot of time on social media apps and often in ways that are kind of unconscious or sometimes unproductive,” said Prabhu. “You know, they’re just scrolling through TikToks mindlessly and then they look up and it’s been an hour. And so part of what the book tries to teach youth is how to be a little bit more critical and intentional with screen time through a fictional story that involves two boys that get into a little bit of a kerfuffle over one kid spending way too much time on his phone.”

Becoming an author is just one more accolade to add to Prabhu’s list. The 22-year-old was a member of the 2021 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact list for her creation of Re-Think, and got an investment offer for the project on ABC’s Shark Tank. She recently graduated from Harvard University, with a concentration in Government, in the Tech Science pathway, and a secondary in Economics.

“Since graduating this past May, I have actually been gearing up for grad school. So in the fall I was really blessed. Last fall I was named a Rhodes Scholar. So I will be off to the University of Oxford later this month, actually, to pursue my postgraduate study.”

Through her app and book, Prahbu hopes to curb the cyberbullying which takes place every day online. Her goal is to help create responsible digital citizens.

“The Internet is such an awesome place. I know firsthand being a tech entrepreneur are the really cool things you can do with tech. But it’s important that kids understand that their words matter. It’s important that they understand what boundaries exist and how to be safe, smart and responsible.”

Reporting for Naperville News 17, I’m Will Payne.