Prince William has spoken out about his fears for his children in a speech acknowledging what he sees as the internet's biggest concerns: cyberbullying and trolling.

At the London 2016 Founders Forum, an international conference for leading digital and technological entrepreneurs, the Prince expressed his belief that one of the most crucial challenges to the digital industry is how to protect children online.

He said as a father to Prince George, 2, and Princess Charlotte, 1, it's something he feels strongly about.

"As Catherine and I started our family a few years ago, I was alarmed about the increasing reports of online bullying that were making headlines around the world," he told the forum.


"From the girls developing eating disorders after being subjected to a campaign of abuse on social media, to the teenage boys who took their own lives following constant targeting - as a parent myself, I was appalled.

"What we were seeing was that social media and messaging had transformed bullying from something that was not only the torment of the classroom and playground, but something that followed you home as well - to the one safe haven that children should have."

Explaining how children experience life in the digital era, he said: "To school-age children today, there is no difference between their online and offline lives. Bullying is bullying, wherever it happens."

While he applauded the efforts of the tech industry to combat cyberbullying, he singled out Apple as a company yet to join his anti-cyberbullying task force.

Acknowledging the huge amount of work there is to be done, he added that by this time next year he expects "to have a plan in place to achieve fundamental improvements in online safety for bullied children."

He said while social media has been scrutinised for the way it creates a platform for trolling and other "viscious behaviour", he believes ultimately innovation in technology is a "force for good".

"'I must admit, like most people my age, I'd struggle without my smart phone - for news, sports, music and the odd bit of gaming. And technology is a big part of my working life, too. As an air ambulance pilot, I love the fact that the helicopter I fly is fitted out with some of the life-saving medical equipment; and I consider social media to be central to how the Royal Family communicates in the 21st century."