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Online Chat and all that jargon!

Michael Grose Parenting Report, Volume 8 Issue 3, Page 2
Article by
Melissa Norfolk
Accredited professional speaker

Instant messaging, chat, ICQ, MSN, bulletin boards and web cams are just a few terms your kids are using these days
but what do all these terms mean? Here is a run-down of the common terms and their meanings:

Chat Rooms

A chat room, or virtual lounge, is software on a website that allows participants to communicate instantly (in real time) with
others already in the 'room'. Users usually have to register to participate in the group and choose nicknames to identify themselves.
Open public chat rooms are available to all Internet users and nicknames allow a person to keep their identity anonymous. Some chat
rooms are moderated or require membership. For example, a school may open a chat room that is only accessible to enrolled students.

Example :

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging enables you to exchange messages over the Internet, in real time, with people you know. To send and receive instant
messages you need a connection to the Internet and instant messaging software. The software allows you to set up a list of friends
that you wish to interact with. You can send messages to any of the people on your list as long as they are online. When you send a
message a small window opens up and you and your friend can type in messages that both of you can see.

A chat room is software that allows a group of people to type in messages that are seen by everyone in the 'room', while instant messaging is simply a chat room for two people.

Examples are : MSN Messenger, ICQ, Yahoo!
Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger.

Bulletin Board

A bulletin board is a website which allows people to post messages and respond to each other. The difference between this and a chat
room is that communication is not in real time. You post a message on a given topic and wait for someone to respond, sometime in the
future. These bulletin boards are usually set up to discuss a specific topic (ie. parenting, computer help, environment). Other terms for
bulletin board include - a message board, newsgroup or forum.

Example :


A Webcam is a small camera that is connected to a computer. A Webcam can be used in conjunction with chat or instant messaging to
allow you to see the person you are communicating with.

Dangers to be aware of

While there are benefits to allowing your child to participate in chat rooms, they can become addictive and waste a lot of time. Supervise
and monitor the amount of time spent in online chat rooms, just as you would monitor the amount of time they spend on the telephone.

Another danger is that people can enter a chat room without any verification of who they are. This is a concern because adults with ulterior
motives can masquerade as children or pretend to be of a different gender so they can form an inappropriate friendship in a chat room.

Chat Room Safety

  • Don't give out personal information including real name, family members, address, phone number, school or sporting clubs.
  • Tell a parent or teacher if you see something on the screen that disturbs you.
  • Be aware that people in chat rooms are not always who they say they are.
  • Not everything you read in a chat room is necessarily true. Be smart and make decisions for yourself about what you think.


ICQ stands for "I seek you" and is a type of instant messaging software for real time chat between you and the people on your friend list.

FTP stands for "file transfer protocol" which is a protocol for the transfer of files from one computer to another over a network.
FTP is most commonly used to download or upload a file using the Internet (eg. uploading a file to a website).

IRC stands for "internet relay chat" and is technology that allows live chat over the Internet in which real-time conversations
among two or more people take place via special software.

AIM stands for "AOL Instant Messenger" and is a type of instant messenging software provided by the internet service provider
America Online (AOL).

PLUG-IN is a small piece of software that adds features to a web browser to allow you to view certain types of files. For example, the
Macromedia Flash plug-in allows you to view flash animated websites. The Real Audio plugin allows you to hear sounds on websites and
the Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in allows you to download and read PDF files.

Internet expert, Melissa Norfolk, speaks to business, school and community groups about effective use of the internet, finding what you need online, internet safety and online marketing.

For more information phone (03) 9816 3488.

Copyright © 2008 Melissa Norfolk Technology Presentations