Chat rooms are places on the Internet where people gather to engage in real-time discussions, usually about a specific topic and with screen names that disguise their off-Internet identity. Discussions among groups of individuals in chat rooms are free-flowing conversations that encourage anonymity. Communication researchers are particularly interested in the conversations between groups in chat rooms because they allow a glimpse into communication phenomena such as [Page 125]group coherence, collaboration, and aspects of the dark side of communication such as cyberbullying and teasing. Because chat rooms often become categorized by subject and demographic, the chat room provides researchers with a useful filter for studying certain subjects or groups. This entry discusses what distinguishes chat rooms from forums and other online conversation groups as ...
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