This is my first time to use instant messaging and I just chatted with Allana on Google Talk. Very enjoyable!
I can see the benefits of using this to communicate with friends and family who are overseas. How nice to "talk" back and forth without those awful phone charges. I hope to do this soon from home.
Limiting factors would be the differences in time zones, the availability of computers and the need be on a compatible IM service. Perhaps that last one can be worked around with Meebo or some of those other advanced things, but I'm just learning the basics right now.
Professionally, the school I work in doesn't use IM. There are both pros and cons to limiting it. I can see that it would be handy in communicating with teachers about their reference needs, scheduling, etc. but it would also be a distraction to students who aren't always interested in doing their assignments before chatting for fun. I appreciate being able to use IM now to learn it with Nebraska Learns 2.0.