As we start the summer holidays we know that children and young people are likely to be spending significantly more time on their devices – contacting friends and interacting on social media.

While we know it is important for children to feel connected to their friends over the six-week break, we would like to re-emphasise the importance of parents keeping an eye on who their children are engaging with on their online platforms.

At the NSPCC, we have recently conducted research that shows as many as one in 25 children, aged 11 to 17 in the UK have been sent, received or been asked to send sexual content to an adult online. The young people we have spoken to through this research have most frequently spoken about Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Instagram and WhatsApp as the platforms where they have experienced sexual contact with adults.

Social networks are an opportunistic gateway for child abusers, who can approach a large number of children before encouraging them to move across to livestreaming and encrypted messaging apps.

There are things that parents can do – such as having regular, five minute conversations with children about what they’re doing online, and who they’re talking to.

And we also know that parents can’t do this alone.

We’re calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prioritise new legislation to protect children online. The White Paper on Online Harms is already out for consultation, but we need the government to ensure recommendations are acted on without any further delay, to keep our children safer, sooner.

Helen Westerman

NSPCC Head of Safeguarding in Communities