Real-time chat room services use text based instant messaging to bring multiple users worldwide on a common software platform and interact with each other. However, what these services offer has come a long way from the simple text based chatting era. Now, users can create and personalise their own avatars, chat with other net users in a 3-D virtual world as in a video game, use webcams for face-to-face video chat and talk by making voice calls in conference mode. Better graphics and innovative improvements have created a sort of mass addiction, particularly among the teenagers. The popularity of chat rooms is perhaps a result of the ability of such services to attract a wide range of people of varying interests and different age groups.
There are many different types of chat rooms. Like real places, even these virtual cyber places have unique atmospheres with people of similar interests gathering. Chat rooms with discussion modules of almost every type can be found over the internet. Sites offer public chat rooms for different age groups for people to find others with similar maturity and experience levels. Apart from this, chat rooms exist for common interests like music, religion, politics, creative writing, etc. Chat rooms can also be classified based on the features they provide to their users. Some people like to join video chat rooms where they can use webcams for live video streaming. Other users still stick to text based ones. They argue that video streaming leaves little to the imagination and the whole point of chatting is in the illusion it creates in talking to anonymous strangers. More shy and introvert people also prefer text based chat rooms. A more jazzed up version of the text based chat room is the one which allows its users to create avatars. Such cyber places are three dimensional versions of the conventional 2-D ones that further create the illusion of being in a real world. Users who like to have more control over the participants and topics discussed can also create private chat rooms.
Unarguably, the most popular chat rooms are those for romance. People come here looking for the members of the opposite sex. Mostly, they are looking for a casual flirting or erotic chat with no strings attached. Some, however, look for something a little more than one night friendship. Online dating services have been quite successful in the past. It will be surprising to know that quite a few people meet online and end up getting married! However, such services have received severe criticism for the negative influence it can have on youngster, reason being, easy access ensures that there is little control over who is entering the chat room. It is impossible to prevent entry of under aged internet surfers who contribute to a significant faction of web users. These kids are feared to come into the company of perverts and fakes on such sites, which they might enter driven by their curiosity.
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