There are several video chatting services available on the web such as Skype, Stickcam, iVideochat, Chatroulette, etc, but the service I have grown the most accustomed to is one called Tinychat which describes itself as “...a dead-simple, live video, communication platform”. A more well known service, Skype, seems more geared towards one-on-one sessions and requires you to install special software on your computer whereas Tinychat is geared more towards group video chat (up to 12 webcams) and it is completely browser-based meaning you do not have to install any special software. All you will need is a webcam and a web browser that supports flash such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
I found there to be a very lively community filled with interesting people from all over the US and even across the globe. For individuals who are not completely comfortable with broadcasting themselves on camera or if you simply don not have a webcam yet, all is okay because you can still participate in discussions via a chat box ( often simply called “the box”) which is present in every room. The chat box can give you the opportunity to get a feel for the room before deciding weather to broadcast yourself or not. Not only can the service provide you with the opportunity to form new friendships, you can also meet celebrities. That's right! Celebrities (usually music artists) often drop into rooms for marketing purposes or to casually chat with fans. On Dec. 12 of last year music artist P. Diddy engaged with fans in the tonydofat Tinychat room (see slideshow). Other such appearances include Busta Rhyes, Nelly, Dr. Cornell West, 50 Cent, J. Holiday, Wyclef, Nick Hogan, Kelly Rowland and several others.
Granted my general recommendation of Tinychat, I wouldn't however recommend any video chat services to minors without adult supervision. There's no telling when discussions can dip into mature subject matters and even well moderated rooms such as tonydofat (also accessible through www.dofattv.com) and clubciroc have strict age restrictions in place. Apparently there are some Tinychat rooms tailored for teens, but I would still advise parental supervision in any case.
A Tinychat account is not required to enter chat rooms. You are allowed to log into chat rooms via a Facebook, Twitter, or Myspace account. However, in order to create a chat room, a Tinychat account will be needed.