In the present times, the communication technologies have grown rapidly. Compact cell phones that can reach anyone from anywhere, internet, Wi-Fi and WiMAX technologies have revolutionised the concept of a fast and reliable communication between people. The internet provides a global platform to its users to interact and share their views with each other through modules like chat rooms and social networking sites. CompuServe CB Simulator was the first online chat service was developed by Alexander Trevor and released in 1980. Since then the virtual chat environments have evolved from a simple text based instant message service to graphical avatar versions, voice conferencing; webcam based video interaction and video game platforms.
Internet chat rooms have made the World Wide Web more dynamic, real time and lifelike. Its ability to enable multiple users of similar interests to gather in a virtual environment and interact has brought to life a more versatile mode of mass media whose boundaries are not restrained by distance. The users have the option to stay anonymous, choose aliases and chat with strangers which takes away the usual inhibitions one might have in the real world social circles. It also widens the friend circle and increases the possibility of meeting new and more compatible people.
Also, the ability of disappearing without any explanation does not hurt. Perhaps the simplicity of online relations has proved to be the most attractive feature of these chat room services. Internet surfers usually visit internet chat rooms looking to have a good time or finding someone of the opposite sex for casual flirting and more without having any strings attached. This interest saw a rise in popularity of online dating sites, cyber sex and what not. However, it will be unfair to say that the chat rooms are used only for these purposes.
Apart from romance and adult dating chat rooms, people like to visit discussion modules for various hobbies like art, music, creative writing, etc, professional advice chat rooms, ‘How To’ chat rooms, etc. Hence, these places serve as a 24 hour information and advice hub where users can share their experiences with those needing it. Though criticised by many people for the easy access to sexual content that can negatively influence the minors, instant message services are rising in popularity as a much needed outlet for creativity, pent up emotions and idea sharing. Strict laws strive to isolate the adult content rooms from minors below 18 years of age, control the language used in public chat rooms and blocks perverted or hate mongering users through their own limited resources. Though it is almost impossible to completely prevent such occurring, efforts are being made to better the censuring techniques applied. The good and bad effects of chatting services will always be a subject argument, however there is no dispute over the fact that internet chat rooms have served to bring people from different places together and created a virtual world where ideas and knowledge can be shared without the hurdles of the past.