- Client - the software program you use to chat via IM
- Server - the service (AOL, Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.) that provides the IM services
- Log - record of your chat (transcript) that can be saved, printed and shared
- Never give out personal information! If you are uncomfortable with the direction the conversation is going, use the "blocking" tools in each IM client to make sure that person can't contact you again.
- Never agree to meet someone offline that you only know through IM
- Set your IM client to automatically set you to "hidden" or "invisible" when you first log on, so you can see who is online, without anyone else being able to see you. Check your contact lists during this time to see if there are any mysterious contacts you don't know and get rid of them if there are.
- Keep your personal IM screen name private. Many services connect your email address and your IM screen name, so if people have one, they can get the other!
- Remember your "netiquette" and be nice!
- Never accept files or click on links from people you don't know and trust. Most IM clients don't have any sort of virus protection built in - yet.
- Know how to save copies of your conversations to your computer's hard drive. All clients have this ability!
- Do not use the automatic login feature that comes with most programs if you share your computer or use a public computer - that just gives others access to your data!
- For your IM session to be secure, your computer must be secure - don't forget to update your virus protection and keep it current.
- Chat Safety - WiredSafety.org
- SPIM (Instant Messaging Spam) - WiredSafety.org
- Instant Message and Chat Room Safety Tips For Teens - ProtectKids.com
- Using IM and Chat Rooms Safely - Computing & Network Services, State University of New York