Poll Shows Conversations Less Embarrassing Online

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Instant messaging is not only a fast and efficient way to communicate, it's become a great way for teens to avoid those embarrassing face-to-face "OMG" moments, as in Oh My God.

An Associated Press-AOL poll out today finds that more than four in 10 teenagers who instant message use it for things they wouldn't say in person. As Kentucky high school senior Casey Hobert puts it, "If they freak out or something, you don't see it." And she adds, "If I freak out, they don't have to see it."

And the chatter Internet style is clearly a teen thing. Nearly half the people surveyed between the ages of 13 and 18 say they use instant messaging. Only about one in five adults do, and usually with less facility, if not social angst.

Riverside, California, real-estate agent Danny Hitt prefers the phone but says he has used instant messaging to chat with four or five folks at a time. Some teenagers consider that number embarrassingly low.

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