The research – among 1686 internet users over 16 – highlights the degree to which people are suffering problems while using the internet.

Almost half ( 45%) said they had experienced some form of online harm – ranging from spam emails, viruses or malicious software and fraud or identity theft; 66% were concerned about online content and 55% about interactions with other users.

When it came to online harm, hacking and security had the biggest negative impact on those who had experienced them.

The research also found that protection of children is the leading area of concern, with potential harms such as exploitation, inappropriate content, and bullying, harassment or trolling cited by some respondents.

The research also looked at respondents’ knowledge and opinion of current levels of regulation for online content, and found understanding was mixed. Some 31% and 30% respectively think social media sites and video-sharing sites are regulated.

Over half of respondents feel more regulation of social media is needed.

Ofcom has published a discussion document examining the area of harmful internet content. It considers how lessons from broadcasting regulation might help to inform work by policymakers to tackle the issue.

Mike PalmerComment