The organisation, which finds and helps remove abuse content from the internet, has called for more support for parents and guardians to help spot the danger signs.

It investigated 361,000 reports of suspected criminal material in 2021. This is more than it dealt with in its entire first 15 years of existence between 1996 and 2011.

According to the research, lockdowns impacted the figures, with more people – particularly schoolchildren – spending more time online and as a result may have been more vulnerable to cyber criminals.

In its research, the online safety group said it had seen a “three-fold” increase in self-generated imagery showing seven to 10-year-olds as they were increasingly targeted and groomed by internet predators “on an industrial scale”.

The IWF report also stated that self-generated material is often made using webcams in a child’s own bedroom and then shared online.

IWF chief executive Susie Hargreaves said it was vital parents were...

Robert Heaton