Chat Rooms, or IRC, is a method of conversing with other internet users, in real time, using a chat software program, or a Java plug-in which operates in your current web browser. There are many different chat channels, or rooms, covering every subject imaginable.

Rather than posting a message on a bulletin board, and reading other postings, you are able to post your message in a chat window, and watch others post their messages.

This makes for some lively dialogue, and a conversation that is much more enjoyable than simply reading messages. You will interact with other chat channel users, and also be able to send and recieve files, such as pictures, using the various IRC chat servers. Most of the Java plug-in chats do not allow you to send or recieve files, however, if you have ICQ, you can exchange files through ICQ.

A word of caution for chatters out there: always be on the lookout for chat “posers” (the person you’re chatting with might be pretending to be someone else) and sexual predators who hunt vulnerable women and children. Also be on alert whenever someone sends you a link or a file because it might install a virus or spyware into your computer without your knowledge.

If someone is sending you a picture make sure it’s in GIF or JPG form, and not just a link. Your computer remains safe as long as you don’t click on a link or accept a file transfer.

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