Porn is ubiquitous on the Web. Teenagers are constantly online. It’s no wonder that so many teens, especially boys, end up surfing to erotic images, not to mention videos — but how do parents know how to handle finding their son or daughter looking at cyberporn? The answer is explaining why avoiding porn can actually make sex better.

Male teens have a natural attraction to erotic images. If they can’t have the real thing, then images become a substitute. Until recently, most teens had limited access to these types of erotic images, but with the Internet now so widely available, many more teens can easily see hardcore pornography.

What’s the difference between teenagers seeing triple-X-rated material online as compared to looking at the rather tame images of nude women in a magazine like Playboy? The discrepancies skew their expectations of what sex is supposed to be like. Instead of sex being part of a loving relationship, it becomes a sport, the goal of which is to imitate what they see on their computer screens. If reality doesn’t match up (and it probably won’t), then they will likely be disappointed.

When you see the latest action thriller movie, you know that all the explosions and mayhem come from special effects. But you may fail to recognize that other things you see on a movie screen are not true to life. The same idea holds true for teens who look to the Internet for sexual images. A teenage boy may be disappointed if his girlfriend doesn’t have enormous breasts or is unwilling to take part in a lesbian threesome for his visual pleasure. As a result, he may wind up being unhappy with his sex life even though there is nothing wrong with it.

So what should a parent say to a teen? Try something like, “I know that the availability of these images may tempt you to look at them. If you refrain from giving into this temptation, however, you will be doing yourself, and your sex life, a very big favor.”