Instant Messaging Basics

Sue Downes of Downstream, a Garrison-based computer solutions consultant business, is regularly asked about Instant Messaging (IM) issues. Here, she shares some of the information she includes and discusses in her presentations for schools, parents and children.

• All major IM services allow you to create a personal profile in which you describe yourself and your interests, including your name, gender, age, home address, phone number and e-mail address.

• This is information that stalkers, identity thieves and spammers can use to target you.

• Leave your IM profiles blank; if the fields must be filled in, enter fictitious data.


Popular Instant Messaging Services

AOL Instant Messenger: The most popular IM client; it can now play video.

• MSN Messenger: Microsoft’s IM software for Windows versions other than XP supports voice, video and SMS chat.

• Windows Messenger: Compatible with MSN Messenger, Windows XP.

• Yahoo Messenger: Text, video and voice capabilities.

• Trillian Basic: This free universal IM client lacks ads and supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo and IRC protocols; no voice or video chat.


E-mail and IM Monitoring Software

While I do not personally recommend using monitoring software, there may be situations that you may need it for Instant Messaging and e-mails.

• eBlaster – works without the knowledge of the user, and reports are e-mailed to you, so you don’t have to access the computer.

• Child Safe – monitoring program e-mails logs to you and even will limit access.

• Spector – works without the knowledge of the user but will not e-mail you the reports.