The greatest weapons to combatting the normalization of porn in your home and society are education and awareness.

Research is showing how porn can really harm the viewer, their relationships, and the world. Fight the New Drug is all about getting these facts into the light, and equipping people to make educated decisions about watching porn. For some young viewers, it’s not a conscious decision to watch porn, because they stumble upon it or happen upon it by accident. This is how a lot of kids get exposed and potentially struggling with pornographic material by age 12, or younger.

Working Toward The Ideal

In an ideal situation, a child would feel free to tell their parents about what they heard on the playground or found on the computer by accident. Often, they can be too scared to to say anything, and the issue won’t be brought up.

We think it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about what porn is, and keep the conversation open, honest, and loving. Instilling a total fear of porn in a young child may work for a short while, but it’s not a long term help to keeping the lines of communication open. If kids feel their parents are open to listening to their struggles or questions, they’ll be more likely to approach the subject whenever it comes up instead of hiding their curiosity and searching for it on their own.

And to help curious minds from looking for answers in the wrong places, Fight the New Drug recommends a few tech-based solutions for anyone who needs help with web monitoring. For device-based Internet filters and accountability software, Covenant Eyes and NetNanny can be practical helps. For a router-based solution, Circle is a great tool. While these filters and monitoring devices are great helps to keep tabs on Internet use, there’s no replacement for honest, heart-to-heart conversations between a parent and their child about the harms of porn.

Related: Help! My Ex Lets Our 12-Year-Old Son Look At Porn To Learn About Sex

But how do these conversations start, and how do they continue? After doing hundreds of presentations around the country, and receiving thousands of emails from teens all around the world, Fight the New Drug has taken that feedback, combined it with research and produced this booklet, The Guideline: A Parent’s Guide to Addressing Pornography with Children.

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Honestly, parents, elementary aged kids and teens in the world today are facing issues that you and your parents never even imagined when you were growing up. When a lot of today’s parents were young, if anyone wanted porn, they had to look pretty hard in order to get their hands on it. They’d go to the local store and have to show their ID, and actually ask a store clerk for that magazine. Fast forward a few years, and today’s children can view limitless amounts of it with one click of a mouse. It’s increasingly more hardcore, and increasingly more available than ever.

Related: How Hardcore Internet Porn Is Sexually Damaging Teens

So if you currently have teenagers, are about to have teenagers, plan on having teenagers someday, or just want to help youth in general, reading this guide will provide you with powerful tools and insights for dealing with pornography in today’s world.

We also highly recommend the book “Good Pictures, Bad Pictures,” for younger children especially.

A Guide to The Guideline

As a parent it can be difficult, at times, to tap into your child’s world and have a heartfelt conversation on topics that really matter and will make a difference in their life.

Here is our suggestion on how to talk about pornography. So often we hear parents say, “Not my kid!,” and, “My kid doesn’t have access to that stuff. They don’t have a cell phone and I monitor their Internet use… Even if they did have access, they wouldn’t look at it.” That may be true, and we hope it is. However, statistically speaking, it’s pretty unlikely. If they aren’t looking at porn on their own devices, there’s always friends or classmates who are too eager to share.

More than 90 percent of all teenagers ages 12 to 17 have been exposed to hardcore pornography, and once they’ve been exposed, many keep coming back. It’s no longer a question of if your child will be exposed to pornographic material online, but when. It’s up to parents to instill their family values backed by research into their child’s mindset.

WHY Have The Conversation

You need to be aware that the pornography industry is targeting your child through online games, advertisements, email spam campaigns, pop-ups, merchandise, and so much more. They do this for the same reason the tobacco industry targeted teens years ago. If they can get a child hooked young, they potentially have a lifelong client. Unfortunately, if you don’t educate your kids about what healthy sexuality looks like, the porn industry will. And you probably won’t like what they teach them.

WHEN To Start The Conversation

The short answer: earlier than you think. If you have young children and are wondering at what age it is appropriate to start the conversation about the dangers of pornography, understand that it varies depending on specific cultural circumstances, societal influences, media exposure, and individual curiosities. However, children are being exposed to pornography at an increasingly younger age. You may need to start talking about it sooner than you had originally planned. If your child is older, the time may be now.

HOW To Start The Conversation

The days when parents could quickly have a brief, one-time “talk” about the birds and the bees are over. Today, children are repeatedly exposed to increasingly explicit sexual content, requiring parents to have open and direct conversations about the differences between healthy sexuality and its cheap, unhealthy imitations. There may be some awkwardness at the beginning, but as you make it a regular discussion, it will get easier. Here are some things keep in mind as you prepare to have these conversations: prepare yourself, take time to talk, find the right place, and make it a one-on-one.

Support Your Family’s Values With Scientific Research

Combine your family’s values with the power of scientific evidence. Including concrete evidence of pornography’s harmful effects will help your child fully understand the consequences of viewing pornography. Think about how we educate our kids on the harmful effects of hard drugs. We talk about our individual family values while also discussing drugs’ harmful physical effects, such as rotted teeth, lung cancer, and sometimes death. Let porn be a similar kind of conversation, where you can infuse hard facts into your family’s views.

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Why This Matters

Downloading The Guideline is just the beginning. With constantly evolving technology, starting conversations about the harms of porn and the joys of real love and healthy sexuality is so important.

Porn isn’t going away, so it’s up to us to raise awareness on its harms and get educated on the issue. Nothing can completely erase its existence in our technological world, but with an open dialogue and a scientifically-backed perspective, parents of the Playboy generation can help their kids of the PornTube generation navigate the online minefield they walk through daily.

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