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A new online tool, Reword, is changing cyberbullying behaviour

 

Online tool Reword was launched last year and works by identifying cruel or intimidating language in real time, prompting users to reconsider their potentially hurtful message or social media post before hitting send. Similar to grammar check functionality, a red line appears through inflammatory words to highlight bullying behaviour, encouraging online users to reconsider their choice of words.

A joint initiative between headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, and communications agency Leo Burnett Melbourne, the tool was created as a way to curb the more than 463,000 instances of cyberbullying amongst young Australians every year.

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Reword’s success has garnered overwhelming results, with over 700,000 downloads of the tool since its launch in March 2016. Six weeks after launch, data showed that young people responded to the red line, rephrasing 87 per cent of their messages. Amongst users during that period, bullying behaviour per user decreased by an incredible 67 per cent.

Vikki Ryall, Head of Clinical Practice at headspace, said: “Young people can act impulsively, not realising the effect their actions or words can have. One of the last aspects of neurological development is the ability to moderate actions according to potential consequences, so this type of behaviour is not uncommon. Reword’s success comes from asking young people to stop and think before acting.”

Currently the tool is only available as a Google Chrome extension, so now the creators are calling on the public to support a crowdfunding campaign to create a mobile application. In turn, the app will support the 96 per cent of young people who access social media on their mobile devices.

Ms Ryall:

“In the last year, we’ve had such a positive response to Reword, and we’ve seen how it is possible to impact and stop negative online behaviour in real time. With most young people owning mobile devices, there is a clear demand for a mobile version

About Reword
  • In Australia, 72 per cent of Aussie teens go online more than once a day, with 58 per cent accessing Facebook
  • Reword’s success has largely come from encouraging young people to collaborate and co-author the ‘new’ bullying terms as part of the tool’s lexicon, keeping it up-to-the-minute
  • Reword is the first technology of its kind in Australia
  • Since its launch in March (2016), Reword has had over 700,000 installs
  • Reword has been introduced to over 250 schools across Australia
  • Reword is a simple JavaScript tool that uses a custom lexicon database to identify strings of words that form millions of potential insult combinations

 

Interviews available:
  • Vikki Ryall, Head of Clinical Practice at headspace
  • Technologists from Leo Burnett 
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for further information:
Michael Bennett
headspace Media and Communications Manager
0413 025 385 or mbennett@headspace.org.au