How Americans Use Instant Messaging
At the same time, IM usage varies widely across different age groups. Instant messengers utilize IM not only as a way to expand and remain connected their social circle, but also as a form of self-expression, through use of customized away messages, profiles and buddy icons.
Instant messagers use the expressive tools of IM more frequently than the protective tools that allow them to block unwanted communications. Buddy list management also occurs relatively infrequently, with users reporting adding or deleting buddies from their list no more than a few times a month.