Matthew Carter thought he was having conversations with a 14-year-old over social media site Skout but had been duped by Guardians of the North, who were behind the teen profile.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the exchange started in July 2020, when Carter told the fake teen "Wow, you are looking gorgeous" and said he hoped she liked a man who was "tall, cheeky and older".
Carter was told that the teen was 14 and he told her he was 33.
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Prosecutor Vince Ward said after a "significant break", the chat started up again in November 2020 and "turned immediately sexual".
Mr Ward said: "The defendant asked her if she had ever dated anyone older or been with anyone at all or had sex."
Carter said if the teen was 16 she "might come over" and said he might be the "first to snog her".
He then asked after she would be interested in meeting though admitted it "probs is wrong" and no actual arrangement was made.
Carter, 34, of Sunniside Drive, South Shields, admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.
Judge Christopher Prince said: "It was only an attempt because it was someone working for an agency concerned in identifying people who are willing to talk to children online and engage in offending against them."
Judge Prince said in Carter's case there was a "choice between punishment of you and long term protection of the public" and concluded that the protection of the public could be better achieved by intervention in the community rather than prison.
The judge said he accepted Carter was at a "low point" in his life when he committed the offence.Carter was sentenced to a community order for three years with rehabilitation requirements.
He must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for five years.
Gavin Doig, defending, said Carter has a good support network and added: "It was two conversations, four months apart, both of which he desists from."He is deeply ashamed of his behaviour. He will work with the probation service to ensure there is no repetition."