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Child protection experts fall short of calling for the shutting down of sites such as Bebo and YouTube, which they say have had a huge positive influence in the lives of young people. Instead, they say that education is the best way forward.
Detectives who police the web are keen to point out that the majority of the graphic images they encounter appear on illegal sites run by paedophile networks, and that the worst thing a parent could do is literally to "pull the plug" on their child's computer.
Notwithstanding the potential risks, the internet has transformed the way children and teenagers spend their free time.
In particular, the popularity of social networking sites has expanded massively over the past year. More than 60 per cent of British 13 to 17-year-olds now are members of these "buddy clubs", which are free to join and therefore within the reach of children from every social sphere.
They are an instant way of keeping in touch with existing friends, relieve boredom and enable young people to share life experiences, as well as the trials and triumphs of growing up, with each other.
According to Google, the British spend more time on the internet than watching television and experts point out that the web is an excellent way for children to communicate and preferable to staring mutely at a television screen.
However, others say the internet was built without proper thought to security issues. James Reynolds, the former head of the Anti-Paedophile Unit at Scotland Yard, warned that recent cases involving the web and child abuse are not just one-offs.
"Children nowadays are far more technologically aware and know no fear. But they are not that smart when it comes to life's rich tapestry. They have to be reminded that they can be vulnerable online."
The companies that market their friendship sites to children and teenagers say they take the matter of child protection "very seriously".
Matt Colbourne, the chief executive of the youth community site Lunarstorm.com, said: "Industry needs to drive change. It is in our commercial interests to ensure that, as far as is possible, our users are kept safe from harassment and from the attentions of sexual predators."
For Claudia Green, the experience of being targeted by a web abuser is one she will never get over.
"Now I don't accept anyone whose address I don't recognise unless they've told me they're going to add me," she says.
"The guy who targeted me had no idea who I was. I could easily have been a 10-year-old."
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