It isn’t enough to just teach your child what the 3Ds are – they also have to know what to do when they encounter one! That’s why we suggest that you create a 3D Reach Out Plan with your child.
Why have a Reach Out Plan?
Having a plan can reduce stress and make it easier to take action! In addition, by taking the time to work with your child on a plan, you are showing them that you take the 3Ds seriously and that they are not alone in this.
What should a 3D Reach Out Plan include?
Who are the trusted adults your child will reach out to if they come across a 3D? Make sure you give a heads up to whomever makes the list, and be prepared that you might not make the cut! This could be for any number of reasons, including that your child is going through the developmental processes of separating and individuating from you.
Talk with your child about how they will reach out. Will they text a screenshot of what they encountered? Will they have a conversation in real life? Will they make a phone call? This isn’t about establishing a rigid rule, but rather to brainstorm the possibilities.
Your child might have questions about what will happen after they reach out.
How you answer could depend on whether your child came across a 3D at random or if they saw a 3D posted by someone they know or are acquainted with.
In either instance, what matters most is that they let you or another trusted adult know so they can get help processing what they’ve seen. Your child might be feeling a variety of emotions about encountering something Disturbing, Disparaging, or Dangerous, including guilt. Remind them that they haven’t done anything wrong. Things like this can happen when you are online. This is a learning process!
The second instance is a bit more complicated. The truth is, you can’t know what might happen, but it is important to let your child know that you want to hear what their questions and concerns are. Remind them that the 3Ds can be serious, which is why it is up to the adults to figure out the next steps. You may want to reassure your child that if any action is called for, you will give thoughtful consideration to how you handle it. You can let them know that you will keep them informed of next steps if appropriate.
Don’t just follow your kids on social media. Lead them.