Instant Messenger (IM) is a great way of chatting with friends and family, and it’s private so only the people involved can see what’s being said.

When a message is sent, it appears on the screen almost immediately, so it’s like having a real conversation! In IM, you can keep track of your friends using a contact list. This list shows when they are online the same time as you, so you can see who you can talk to. You can even talk to lots of friends at the same time! You can use webcams when you are logged onto IM,and this can be great fun as it means you can wave at your friends while you are talking to them! Even if they are in another country!

[bsf-info-box icon=”Defaults-info-circle” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#ffffff” pos=”left” el_class=”esafe-warn”]If someone adds you to their contact list and you don’t know them, make sure you BLOCK THEM. This will stop them from seeing when you are logged on, and they won’t be able to contact you. If you add someone and decide afterwards you don’t want them on your list you can delete them too.[/bsf-info-box][bsf-info-box icon=”Defaults-info-circle” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#ffffff” pos=”left” el_class=”esafe-warn”]If you have your own profile on IM, IT’S NOT A GOOD IDEA TO INCLUDE LOTS OF INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF, like your hobbies, favourite band, your address and school.[/bsf-info-box][bsf-info-box icon=”Defaults-info-circle” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#ffffff” pos=”left” el_class=”esafe-warn”]It’s also NOT A GOOD IDEA TO HAVE A PICTURE OF YOURSELF on your profile – you can use one of the pictures that are on IM already, or a picture of a pet or your favourite pop group. This is because if you have someone on your contact list who you don’t know in the real world, they will be able to have access to your profile and see what you look like.[/bsf-info-box]

Lots of people also use webcams when they use IM – this can be a great way of seeing all your friends and family when you are talking to them, but remember some people you meet online may not be who they say they are.

[bsf-info-box icon=”Defaults-info-circle” icon_size=”32″ icon_color=”#ffffff” pos=”left” el_class=”esafe-warn”]Webcam images can be recorded and copied and also shared with other people, so the best thing to do is not use a webcam with people you don’t know in the real world.[/bsf-info-box]

Some people will try and speak to young people using IM because they have bad intentions and they can fake webcam images and pretend to be someone else to try and trick you. If you feel worried about this, make sure you tell to a trusted adult.