Internet Matters and Nominet identify methods to prevent the spread of self-generated child sexual abuse material

15th February 2024

Nudge technologies, gamification, and high-quality lesson plans could help turn the tide on the disturbing rise of ‘self-generated’ sexual images amongst young people.

OXFORD, UK – 15th February 2023: Internet Matters has joined forces with Nominet, the public benefit company and guardians of the .UK namespace, and expert research agency Praesidio Safeguarding to conduct innovative research into the prevention of sexual image-sharing among 11-13-year-olds. Today it announces the findings of its second phase, which explores the best methods through which to reach children on this issue. 

Statistics from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) have shown a disturbing rise in the volume of ‘self-generated’ sexual images depicting 11-13-year-olds in recent years, citing an almost three-fold increase of webpages containing self-generated child sexual abuse (CSAM) images of 11-13-year-olds between 2019 – 2022. At present, little is known about how to effectively prevent children from sharing sexual imagery with others online. 

Phase 1 of the research explored the efficacy of prevention messaging and resources aimed at 11 to 13-year-olds. This found two key insights into current prevention approaches: 

  • Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) lessons are not cutting through. Alternative sources of education on nude-sharing are ad-hoc and of varying content and quality. 
  • Prevention messages land differently for boys and for girls. This reflects the different pressures that girls and boys face to share nudes. 

The latest phase built upon findings from phase one, by exploring the best ways to reach children with effective messages. 

Internet Matters explored various digital interventions such as nudge techniques, ‘gamification’ and social media campaigns, alongside more conventional, in-person methods such as classroom resources and ‘whole school approaches’ to tackling nude-sharing. 

The key takeaways include: 

  • Despite the poor RSE offer that most children currently receive, there is still appetite from children for high-quality classroom sessions on sensitive topics, including nude-sharing.
  • Children were averse to ‘whole-school approaches’ to tackling image-sharing, immediately associating this approach with assemblies, which generally fail to land.
  • Nudge techniques ranked highly among girls in mainstream settings. Nudges can contain tailored messages for boys and for girls, alongside signposts to further resources and sources of support.
  • Social media campaigns also ranked highly – among both boys’ and girls’ panels. However, children noted that the effectiveness of social media-led campaigns perhaps come into force after an individual has been involved in an incident involving non-consensual image sharing and had less benefit as a prevention resource.
  • Gamification was the method most popular with boys. Children rated the interactivity of gamification highly, and its ability in allowing individuals to explore decisions and consequences in a safe environment. 

Eleanor Bradley, Managing Director, Registry and Public Benefit at Nominet commented: “It’s rewarding seeing this research come together and how it is being received by the young people on our panels. It highlights how a one-size-fits-all approach cannot work. Delivery methods must be tailored to the young person’s unique circumstances, and we must listen to them to tackle the issue of self-generated CSAM. This research takes us one step closer to having a suite of responses that can help significantly reduce the creation and sharing of this harmful content.” 

Simone Vibert, Head of Policy and Research at Internet Matters said: “We couldn’t be more proud of this research partnership with Nominet. We are using insights to develop concrete and evidence-based solutions to prevent self-generated CSAM from being created by 11-13-year-olds. So far, the research has given us enormous insights into the dynamics which shape harmful norms around image-sharing, and shown the need for children to receive more tailored support. We look forward to testing our findings through two practical delivery models to reach children, combined a set of messaging tailored for boys and for girls. We hope that our insights provide a valuable contribution towards the sector’s ongoing and collective efforts to turn the tide on self-generated CSAM.”  

In phase 3, Internet Matters and Praesidio Safeguarding will test a high-quality classroom session, containing a gamification element allowing children to explore the consequences, pressures and decision-making involved in nude image-exchange. 

Alongside the classroom resource, Internet Matters will also test a nudge technique with tailored messages and signposting for girls and boys – reflective of the gendered pressures faced by 11 to 13-year-olds to procure, share and distribute nudes. 

These findings are expected later in 2024.


Nominet is a public benefit company, driven by a commitment to use technology to improve connectivity, security and inclusivity online. Since 1996, Nominet has run the .UK internet infrastructure, developing an expertise in the Domain Name System (DNS) that now underpins sophisticated threat monitoring, detection, prevention, and analytics that is used by governments to mitigate cyber threats. Our social impact programme provides funding, support and opportunities to help tackle some of the most important digital issues facing young people in the UK today.   

Learn more on   


Internet Matters ( is a not-for-profit, industry-funded members body that helps families stay safe online, providing resources for parents, carers and educational professionals. It was established in 2014 by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media O2 and its members include Google, Meta, Samsung Electronics UK, Amazon and TikTok. It is a member of the Executive Board of UKCIS (UK Council for Internet Safety), where it leads the working group for vulnerable users, and has advisory panel positions with Ofcom and the Government’s Media Literacy Taskforce.  It works with partners from across the industry, government and third sector to raise awareness and provide advice on the issues affecting children in the digital age, including cyberbullying, screen time, digital resilience, extreme content, privacy and exploitation.   


The research aims to identify delivery methods through which to reach children aged 11-13 with effective prevention messages. More on the research methodology can be found here. 

To find out more about the findings of phase one, read Internet Matters’ blogs (read them in full here and here). 

For more details on phase two, visit Internet Matters’ website.