Young people are being warned to avoid becoming an easy target for cyber criminals.
Northumbria Police have specifically warned against ‘sexting’ - sending an explicit image to somebody they trust but which can often cause great distress if they are leaked on social media.
Detective Inspector Sharon Chatterton, of the force’s Cyber Crime Unit, said: “It’s very important that we make sure young people stay safe online and are aware of the risks and what they can do to avoid them.
“Anyone who may have concerns about images they have shared or received should speak with a trusted adult or the police straight away.”
She added: “We work closely with schools across the force to ensure children are aware of the risks around sharing images of themselves and others via text and social network sites and would advise youngsters to think carefully about what they share on social networks.
“The internet is an essential tool and social networking sites are a popular way for children to communicate with their friends but we need to make sure they stay safe online and know how to use it responsibly.”
* Producing a explicit image when you are under the age of 18 is a criminal offence.
* Never send any explicit pictures, even if it is to somebody they trust.
* Be aware that, once a picture has been sent it could end up anywhere and remain in the public domain forever.
* It is a criminal offence to share indecent images with others online. Just sharing a website link to indecent images could an offence.
For more information about staying safe online visit the Northumbria Police website.