IM or instant messaging as it is known is a form or real time communication that is done online between friends or family members. It is done by typing text into a chat window and immediately the other person or persons receive the message and can type back right away. Now IM is totally different from chatting in chat rooms and emails. Chatting in a chat room is where you enter a chat area that is geared towards your interest or geographical area and chat with many other people at once. There can be more than 40 people in a chat room at one time so keeping up with the conversations can be confusing at times. Emailing is where you send a message to someone that is more in the form of a letter. They get your message whenever they log on to their email account.

Instant messaging is done in real time communication. IM allows people to not only chat in real time but you can also leave offline messages so that when the recipient logs onto the messaging system, they can see your message immediately. Some IM systems have other features to make it more user friendly such as the ability to see the person you are taking to through what is known as a web cam which is a small camera attached to your computer.

Instant messaging came about in the 1980’s when you could see each character typed as the person was typing it. Now you cannot see the message until the person completes the message. In the later years, IM offers video conferencing features, VOIP and web conferencing services. Many people don’t know this but the term instant messenger is a service mark of Time Warner.

Mobile instant messaging is a service that is used by many people especially those who travel. Mobile instant messaging allows people to IM through their cell phones. This is helpful when people are traveling or doing business on the road and need to chat in real time with friends, family or clients.

There is certain language that is used in instant messaging. They are basically shortcuts so you don’t have to type out full words. Some examples are LOL which stands for Laughing Out Loud, ROFL which means Rolling on Floor Laughing and POS which stands for Parent over Shoulder.