The following list identifies things you can do to help protect your child from the negative impact of pornography. We suggest that you follow these recommendations throughout the course of your child’s life, changing the sophistication of your approach and the level of detail to coincide with what is age appropriate for your child.

__ Maintain a porn-free home environment.

__ Develop an emotionally sensitive, attentive, and caring relation­ship with your child.

__ Have regular, supportive conversations about your child’s con­cerns, challenges, and problems.

__ Promote healthy sexual attitudes and boundaries in the family.

__ Validate your child’s curiosity and desire for information about sex.

__ Encourage your child to talk with you about sexually explicit ma­terials he or she encounters.

__ Respond to your child’s questions, concerns, and disclosures about

sexual matters in a calm, productive, and non-shaming manner. Educate your child about the inaccurate, misleading, and harm­ful messages in porn.

__ Educate your child about the reality of porn addiction and other

negative repercussions of porn use.

__ Openly discuss sexual concerns that exist in our society, such as

sexual abuse, sexual addiction, sexually transmitted infections, and unwanted pregnancy.

__ Help your child access community resources for sex education

and counseling as needed.

If, by chance, your child is inadvertently exposed to porn or intention­ally seeks it out, you can be instrumental in helping to prevent him or her from developing a problem with porn. One father told us about what he did when he discovered his teenage son up in the middle of the night looking at sexy pictures on the Internet. “I used it as a teachable moment when I could have just yelled at him and gone back to bed,” he said. “I sat down and talked with my son about where porn comes from, who puts it up there, and why. I explained how porn is designed to turn people on, get people hooked, and get their money. I wanted him to understand and think critically about what he had seen so he can know the difference between fantasy and reality. At one point, I asked him how many people he knows look or act that way in real life. We discussed how being sexual with porn can be addictive, like taking drugs, and how it could end up lowering his self-esteem. I helped him to see how porn isn’t going to help him tomorrow when he’s talking to a girl at school. We talked about what skills he needs to actually have a relationship with a young woman—and, had a good laugh at how that’s very different from moving a mouse around for a computer!” As awkward and emotionally charged as discovering a child’s porn use can be, it’s important to find a way to respond with understanding and information. A parent’s ability to promote healthy and responsible attitudes about sex can go a long way in helping his or her child safely navigate through today’s porn-saturated world.