Instant messaging, or more popularly known as IM, describes the process of sending messages to another internet user in real time. Instant messaging is actually similar to chatting with someone in a chat room where only the people invited into the room are able to chat with each other.
Instant messaging is a more private way of communicating with someone especially when compared with a normal chat room. Communication is also much faster when compared to sending email back and forth. The real time element of instant messaging lets the users respond to messages quickly and instantaneously. Instant messaging is a great communication tool to use when communicating with family members and friends because it saves on phone bills. Businesses can also use instant messaging when collaborating with officemates who are in other areas or countries, though corporate use does have its own set of limitations.
There should still be caution when using instant messaging. Care should be taken just like any other online activity. Do not just add a person to your personal list without having any idea who they are. Children should use instant messaging only with adult supervision and children should not add anyone to their list without having to ask permission first from their parents. There are many bad elements who prowl chat rooms looking for people to victimize and children are quite vulnerable to these predators. Additionally, one should also be aware the viruses and trojanscan also be contracted from instant messaging rooms.
The most popular instant messenger systems are AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Skype, Google Talk (gtalk), Yahoo and MSN.