200,000 young people may have been groomed on social networks

We're calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prioritise online safety and bring in laws that deliver a change in protection against abuse

Girl looking at phoneA new NSPCC survey has revealed for the first time the extent of grooming and inappropriate behaviour on the most popular social networking sites.

  • 1 in 25 11-17 year olds have sent, received or been asked to send sexual content to an adult.
  • Young people who used Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch were the most likely to report experiencing grooming activity1.

We're concerned about the extent to which young people are sharing sexual images, leaving them more vulnerable to grooming and exploitation. Offenders are then using these images to blackmail children to generate more.

Following the release of the Online Harms White Paper earlier this year, our #WildWestWeb campaign calls on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to keep the Government's promise and force tech firms to exercise a duty of care to children on their platforms.

Ben's* story

Ben was 14 when he was deceived into thinking he was speaking to a girl who was a friend of a friend, on Facebook.

After three weeks of chatting, this person said he was in fact a man and then threatened and blackmailed Ben into sending sexual images and performing sex acts live on Skype.


Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said:
“The scale of risk that children face on social networks revealed in this research cannot be ignored and tackling it with robust and comprehensive legislation needs to be a priority for this government. 

“Tech firms need to be forced to get a grip of the abuse taking place on their sites by using technology to identify suspicious behaviour and designing young people’s accounts with built-in protections.”

Wild West Web: our campaign

We're calling on the Government to stand up for children and introduce tough regulation for social networks. We want:

  • an independent regulator who can put in place mandatory child safety rules for social networks
  • safe accounts for children
  • detailed reporting on how social networks are keeping children safe.


Names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity. Photographs have been posed by models.


  1. This research (Young People’s Experiences of Social Networking Sites) was commissioned by the NSPCC and conducted by Family Kids & Youth and consisted of 2,004 interviews of young people aged 11 to 17. It was estimated that over 200,000 young people aged 11-17 may have been groomed, based on the UK population of this age group being 5,182,045.