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A chat room is an electronic space on a network, such as the Internet, where users engage in small talk, share ideas, and accomplish other communicative actions. The communication that takes place in chat rooms is often synchronous, although the extent to which users communicate simultaneously, as in face-to-face situations, varies, depending on a number of technological variables, including bandwidth speeds. This entry describes chat rooms, discusses their social aspects and how they have influenced global communication, and looks at how chat rooms have evolved along with other forms of online communication.

Internet users familiar with the communication tools of the 1990s are likely to associate chat rooms with text-based environments where multiple users discuss a common topic. However, post-1990 technological advancements provide a range of ...

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