Chatting and Instant Messaging

The private form of communication represented by chatting and text messaging makes it very easy for teens to send and receive inappropriate material without parents knowing. A significant percentage of teens report receiving sexually explicit messages while instant messaging.25

Video chat is also becoming a pervasive reality. Laptops and smartphones commonly have video chat capability built in. Couple that capability with the privacy of chatting and instant messaging, and it’s not hard to see where it can go. Controversial sites such as Chatroulette provide opportunities for users to video chat online with complete strangers, and then change to another random video partner whenever the fancy strikes. Such sites quickly become notorious for the sorts of things (good and bad) that randomly appear from the video cameras of random laptops of complete strangers scattered around the world. We deal with more of the issues surrounding chatting and instant messaging Chapter 8.

25 National Research Council Staff, Youth, Pornography and the Internet: Can We Provide Sound Choices in a Safe Environment? (Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, 2002), 140.

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