Instant messaging (also known as IM’ing) is a type of online or phone to phone communication between 2 or more people. Usually it happens in real time, but you can send a message back and forth regardless of if the intended recipient is online. Most search engines offer free accounts linked to your email for instant messaging. Although many people would say this is like email, it is much faster in that you are provided a small window that sits on your screen where messages can g back and forth as opposed to a full on email.
Messaging is not new; it has been around as long as computers have been able to talk to each other. As mentioned it is free from virtually all providers. The three largest are MSN Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger. They all offer the same basic services such as:
- Regular chat which is text messaging is the back-and-forth.
- Conferencing, which is also texting, but with several participants in the same conversation
- Voice chat is a feature that lets two use a audio connection in their chat session
- Video chat is the same as above, but of course with picture added.
The internet has brought forth a host of innovation in the way we stay in touch with each other and instant messages are another in that long line of advancements. Although email was the most quickly learned and utilized form of communication in human history, Instant messages are not far behind. People have opted to email or instant message in lieu of actual postal mail and even phone calls. Instant messaging has also increased in popularity due to the fact that you can “see” when a person is available to talk. You are able to set your status on your IM profile to busy, away, invisible and so on. You can easily share link to websites that you are currently viewing and get feedback in real time. You can also easily share pictures back and forth with less download times via your chat box. Files and video can also be shared easily. If you are looking for down time, a host of multi player games are also available for play between you and any of the people on your list that happened to be online.
Many business people utilize this service to get simple updates on work without having to make a phone call or actually walk to another location in the office. This is also a favorite of those in their teens a way to talk with their friend without the added expense of a phone bill.