IT’S a very worrying fact that never before have so many of our children had “secret” lives thanks to today’s technology.

They have grown up with the opportunity to live alternatively in the private worlds of gaming. They can “chat” to unknown people in unregulated chatrooms and can send and receive compromising photos.

All of this is done – because they are children – with no real thought of possible consequences or of the very real danger in which they put themselves.

The NSPCC now says that one child in every British primary school classroom has been sent a naked picture by an adult. Worse, one in 50 schoolchildren has sent an adult a nude image of themselves.

Children who have been coerced into sending naked pictures of themselves are as young as seven. This happens when they are playing supposedly innocent online games against their friends.

Hardly a week seems to go by without a gang of vigilantes tricking a potential paedophile into meeting them instead of the 11 or 13-year-old girl or boy they thought they had enticed.

And those compromising photos of themselves they were persuaded to send quickly find themselves in the hands of other paedophiles, often around the world, or are used to blackmail children into meeting them or sending even more explicit images.

Most of us, as parents or grandparents, find it hard to understand both the pull of the kind of full-time activity youngsters now indulge in or what can happen next.

Sometimes, when a bill comes from Apple or some other provider for a couple of hundred pounds racked up by our children updating or enhancing a worryingly popular online game like Fortnight, we start to understand the addictive nature of gaming as well as it’s possible financial outcomes.

Obviously, not all gaming causes debt problems and not all social media is dangerous, but that old saying that it just takes good men to do nothing for evil to triumph can be adapted for today’s technology. It just takes responsible adults to take their eye off the ball for evil individuals to threaten our children.

Today, no parent – or grandparent – can really afford not to be clued in about what youngsters are doing when they go on their phones, ipads and PCs. Like our technology, we also need to be upgraded on a regular basis.

The alternative simply does not bear thinking about.