Instant Messaging Instant messaging programs allow users to exchange real-time messages with people from a list of contacts, also known as a “buddy” list.
Children may not know the true identities of their buddies, as IM accounts can be acquired anonymously.
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E-mail, IM, and chat room programs let children communicate with friends and family members.
They can also allow children to connect with people that they have never met in person, making them vulnerable to online predators, cyberbullies, and scam artists.
A study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that teens (ages 12-17) use text messaging to communicate with their friends more than e-mail or instant messaging (IM).
However, these online communication services, along with chat rooms, continue to be an important part of children’s online interactions.
E-mail accounts, for example, are often necessary to join social networking sites, online games, and virtual worlds.