Sending and Receiving Instant Messages (IM)
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Instant messaging (or IM) is more than a way for people to send instantaneous text messages on their computers. Now you can use IM to talk as if on the phone, send photos, videos, and other files, show live video feeds of participants, and get and send e-mail. Some IM services also allow you to search the Web, find others using GPS, listen to music, watch videos, and play games. You can also make your IM space your own with items such as winks and avatars. It’s is even possible to give a buddy remote access to your computer!
Ten safety tips for instant messaging
- Choose a safe screen name that doesn’t give away personal information.
- Pick something that doesn’t help identify or locate you. For example, SusieDoe_14_small_town@google.com.au reveals enough for someone to find Susie-her name, age, and small town in Australia.
- Avoid using flirtatious names like “2sexy4U” or “I_like_handcuffs” which may cause unwanted attention and expose you to greater risk.
- Don’t share sensitive personal information when you use instant messaging.
- Never share passwords, social security number, credit card information, and the like.
- Don’t give away information in your status bar. You shouldn’t be showing emotions to people you don’t know well, or saying that you’re on vacation as these can be useful pieces of information to people who want to exploit or steal.
- Consider who you want to use IM with. Remember: a friend of a friend is a stranger. Some people only use IM with close friends and family, others use it much more openly. Decide what you’re comfortable with and set appropriate limits. You don’t have to add everyone who sends a request asking to be added to your contact list. Also, most services allow you to block messages from anyone not on your contact list or to keep your online status a secret, so you simply appear to be offline.
- Think twice before you open attachments or click links in instant messages-even if you know the sender. Sending photos, documents, and links in IM is an easy and convenient way to share with others, but the bad guys can use these to slip spam and viruses onto your computer.
- If you don’t know the sender, close the IM window; if you do know the sender, double-check that an attachment or link is safe to open. If you can’t confirm, your best bet is close the IM window.
- If anyone sends you inappropriate material, report it. Don’t shut down the computer; instead turn off the monitor and walk away. Tell your parents, your ISP, and the police, if appropriate.
- Avoid typing sensitive information into a public computer.
This includes your name and phone numbers, account numbers and passwords, and home or e-mail addresses. An industrious thief might install a kind of spyware that records your every keystroke for the crook. Never select the feature that automatically logs you on to instant messaging when you start the computer, or accept a “Remember My Password” option.
- Be cautious about meeting in person someone you only know through IM.
Everything someone tells you about themselves and their motivation for meeting you may be completely true – or none of it could be. They may feel like a close friend, but they are still a stranger so never go alone to meet. If you decide to meet someone, never go alone make sure others know where you’re going, and have your cell phone handy.
- Think about how to use the IM features safely.
For example, some of the games may be more mature than is appropriate, and you may want to limit voice and video interactions with people you haven’t met. Only give another person remote access to your PC if you trust them completely and you have a clear problem they can help fix; kids should never give their online friends remote access to their computer.
- Consider what you’re saying and sharing in IM and how you would feel if the information was shared.
Anything you say in IM can be forwarded to others – or perhaps monitored by your employer.
- Report harassment or bullying.
As in real life, this is unacceptable behavior and in some cases can be illegal. Report harassment or abuse to your service provider. (Every service should have a clearly visible Report Abuse function; if it doesn’t consider switching providers.)
- Help protect children using IM.
- For younger children, use a service that allows you to limit your child’s contacts (so they can only send IM to people you both know) and allows you to monitor who they’re talking to. Limit access to a safe list of buddies.
- With teens, have a discussion about who they communicate with and what they talk about. Set boundaries that match your family’s values and their age, reassessing these boundaries periodically as they mature. Caution them not to list their IM names publicly, or respond to IM from someone they don’t know personally. (There is frequently “status” in having lots of contacts, but this often includes people whom they’ve never met.)
- If the IM program allows others to see your child’s friends (called “friends of friends” functionality), and allows your child to be seen by all of his friends’ friends, discuss with them what level of interaction is appropriate and make sure the program settings reflect your comfort level.
Learn More To learn more about how to play it safe when you use IM, see Chapter 8 (“Don’t Expose Yourself Through Instant Messaging”) in Look Both Ways.
Having trouble understanding text messages?
That may be the point. While many short codes are used simply to save time others are deliberately used to keep
parents from knowing what is being said
|AAM||As a matter of fact|
|ADctd2Luv||Addicted to love|
|AFAIC||As far as I know|
|AKA||Also known as|
|ALIWanIsU||All I want is you|
|ALOrO||All or nothing|
|ASAP||As soon as possible|
|ATB||All the best|
|BaBitsU||Baby it’s you|
|BBFN||Bye bye for now|
|BBSD||Be back soon darling|
|BCNU||Be seeing you|
|BFN||Bye for now|
|BGWM||Be gentle with me (please)|
|BOHICA||Bend over here it comes again|
|BRB||Be right back|
|BTW||By the way|
|BYKT||But you knew that|
|CMIIW||Correct me if I’m wrong|
|CSThnknAU||Can’t stop thinking about you|
|CUIMD||See you in my dreams|
|CUL8R||See you later|
|DIKU||Do I know you?|
|DLTBBB||Don’t let the bed bugs bite|
|DuUWnt2GoOut2nite?||Do you want to go out tonight?|
|EOL||End of lecture|
|F2F||Face to face|
|F2T||Free to talk|
|FITB||Fill in the blank|
|FWIW||For what it’s worth|
|FYEO||For your eyes only|
|FYI||For your information|
|GAO||Glad all over|
|GMeSumLuvin||Gimme some lovin”|
|GMTA||Great minds think alike|
|GrwOldWivMe||Grow old with me|
|GSOH||Good salary, own home|
|GSOH||Good sense of humour|
|GTSY||Glad to see you|
|GYPO||Get your pants off|
|HAGN||Have a good night|
|HAND||Have a nice day|
|HITULThtILuvU?||Have I told you lately that I love
|HldMeClse||Hold me close|
|Hot4U||Hot for you|
|HTH||Hope this helps|
|H&K||Hug and kiss|
|IAC||In any case|
|ICLW\YLuv||I can’t live without your love|
|IDK||I don’t know|
|IDntDsrveU||I don’t deserve you|
|IGotUBbe||I got you babe|
|IIRC||If I recall correctly|
|IJC2SalLuvU||I just called to say I love you|
|ILUVU||I love you|
|ILU||I love you|
|IMBLuv||It must be love|
|IMHO||In my humble opinion|
|IMNSHO||In my not so humble opinion|
|ImRdy4Luv||I’m ready for love|
|ImT14U||I’m the one for you|
|IOW||In other words|
|IWALU||I will always love you|
|IOWAN2BWU||I only want to be with you|
|IPN||I’m posting naked|
|IWSN||I want sex now|
|IYKWIN||If you know what I mean|
|IYSS||If you say so|
|JM2p||Just my two pennyworth|
|JstCLMe||Just call me|
|KIT||Keep in touch|
|KOTC||Kiss on the cheek|
|KOTL||Kiss on the lips|
|KPC||Keeping parents clueless|
|LOL||Laughing out loud|
|LMAO||Laughing my ass off|
|LstinU||Lost in you|
|LTNC||Long time no see|
|LMIRL||Let’s meet in real life|
|LTR||Long term relationship|
|LtsGt2gthr||Let’s get together|
|Luv2LuvUBab||Love to love you baby|
|LuvisTDrug||Love is the drug|
|LuvMeLuvMyDog||Love me, love my dog|
|M$ULkeCraZ||Miss you like crazy|
|MGB||May god bless|
|MkeMyDaSa+!||Make my day, say yes|
|MMDP||Make my day punk!|
|MoF||Male or female?|
|MOOS||Member(s) of the opposite sex|
|Member(s) of the same sex|
|MYOB||Mind your own business|
|NAZ||Name, address, zip|
|NIFOC||Naked in front of computer|
|OIC||Oh, I see|
|OTOH||On the other hand|
|P911||My parents are coming!|
|PAL||Parents are listening|
|PANB||Parents are nearby|
|PCM||Please call me|
|POS||Parent over shoulder|
|RMB||Ring my bell|
|RmbaYaMne||Remember you’re mine|
|ROTFL||Rolling on the floor laughing|
|RUOK?||Are you OK?|
|RUMORF||Are you male or female?|
|Salt&ILDoIT||Say it & I’ll do it|
|SETE||Smiling ear to ear|
|SIT||Stay in touch|
|SITD||Still in the dark|
|SOH||Sense of humour|
|SOHF||Sense of humour failure|
|SorG||Straight or gay?|
|StckOnU||Stuck on you|
|StndByYaMan||Stand by your man|
|SvnALMyLuv4U||Saving all my love for you|
|SWALK||Sent with a loving kiss|
|SWG||Scientific wild guess|
|SYS||See you soon|
|2Hot2Hndle||Too hot to handle|
|TAW||Teachers are watching|
|TDTU||Totally devoted to you|
|TDTM||Talk dirty to me|
|Ti2GO||Time to go|
|TIC||Tongue in cheek|
|TkeAChnceOnMe?||Take a chance on me?|
|TLMeImDrmn||Tell me I’m dreaming|
|TMB||Text me back|
|TMIY||Take me I’m yours|
|TPTB||The powers that be|
|TTFN||Ta ta for now|
|TTYL8R||Talk to you later|
|TWIMC||To whom it may concern|
|UCnDoMgic||You can do magic|
|UdoSumthn2Me||You do something to me|
|U+Me=Luv||You + me = love|
|WAN2TLK?||Want to talk|
|WenCnICUAgn?||When can I see you again?|
|WER R U?||Where are you?|
|WLUMRyMe?||Will you marry me?|
|WRT||With respect to|
|WTGP||Want to go private|
|WTTW||Word to the wise|
|WUWH||Wish you were here|
|WYCM||Will you call me?|
|WUF||Where are you from?|
|WYRN||What’s your real name?|
|Xoxoxoxo||Hugs and kisses|
|Xclusvly Yrs||Exclusively yours|
|YBS||You’ll be sorry|