Nadia Sawalha and Linda Robson were left stunned after meeting a paedophile hunter who aims to stop children falling pray to sexual predators.
The actresses, who are regular panelists on ITV's Loose Women, filmed the investigation for a new feature called Loose Women Undercover., which will tackle different social issues. This episode focused on helping parent's keep their children safe online.
Nadia and Linda spent a day with a woman who is part of a vigilante group called Internet Interceptors, and quickly discovered how easy it is for a child to unwittingly meet a paedophile on the web.
The group set up fake online profiles to try and catch paedophiles. Talking about the process, a horrified Linda said: “Within seconds, hundreds of middle aged men (approached us online), knowing they’re speaking to a child that age, they star befriending them and asking to meet them, asking them to undress…
“Honestly it was so distressing. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, all over Christmas… seeing some of those images was just (shocking).”
Talking about the paedophile hunter, Nadia added: “It was very scary, I was scared for her… she’s putting herself at great risk.
“I felt a bit haunted for her because it’s like she’s got this unbelievable responsibility on her shoulders, at any one time she had four phones with her, she was working on the decoys the whole time, the messages were coming in the whole time.”
Although many people praise the work the paedophile hunters do - the woman they met secured over 10 convictions last year - The National Crime Agency actively discourage people from taking vigilante action like this.
However Nadia explained that she believes the technology companies should be doing more to protect children. “I feel strongly that manufacturers should send these devices out with the settings off, so you opt in to having a public account," she explained.
The Loose Women panel was also joined by television presenter Rylan Clark-Neal and his husband Dan, who previously worked for the Metropolitan Police and Child Protection Agency.
Talking about the dangers for children online, Dan said: “Unfortunately as with all online crime, it is a growing issue, it is really common.
“Only last week the NSPCC announced that there had been a 250% increase and it’s a big issue. They’re asking parents to talk to their children about the dangers of using their tablets, their smartphones and their games consoles and it’s great that you are highlighting it today.”
Finally, Nadia spoke to Carolyn Bunting from an organisation called Internet Matters to learn about the parental controls available to parent's to help restrict what sites their children can access online.