"Grooming on a vast scale" is taking place online as young children are frequently approached by predators asking them to take part in an explicit conversations, according to the NSPCC.
A special investigation by Good Morning Britain into virtual stranger danger found adults repeatedly approaching younger users despite being in chat rooms designed for children and teenagers.
The NSPCC has described the findings of a Good Morning Britain investigation as "grooming on a vast scale" and a "wake up call" after more than 150 predators in chat rooms aimed at kids and teens were uncovered.
Good Morning Britain posed as a 12-year-old child online and nearly half the conversations became explicit.
During the three, two hour online sessions in chat rooms for children and teenagers, the researcher was approached by one in six adults, the oldest being 55-years-old.
Grooming behaviour was commonplace but more extreme tactics were also used - one stranger attempted to blackmail Good Morning Britain in exchange for explicit information.
The researcher also found evidence that suggested the trading of indecent images.
Former police officer James Patrick said the force was letting families down by not catching up with the technology and training enough officers.
This meant resources could not be deployed properly and more children were slipping through the cracks.
The NSPCC's Alan Wardle said it was obvious virtual stranger danger was "a serious problem" and "escalating quickly".
He also urged parents to talk to their children about who they spoke to online.