This paper reviews the body of research on the use and role of instant messaging (IM) in campus life, and how IM is a key part of university students’ communication. IM is a synchronous form of communication and its speed, availability information, and support for multiple conversations have made it appealing for young people. With university students, in particular, showing a heavy reliance on IM, researchers have shown great interest in how university students use IM and how it is integrated in their social and academic life. While studies are emerging in various disciplines, no attempt has been made to integrate the disparate findings and approaches. This paper synthesizes key findings, provides a map of the literature, and discusses conceptual problems inherent in the study of IM and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) that will help researchers identify key areas of study and opportunities for future investigation.
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