A chat is real-time communication between two users via computer. Once a chat has been initiated, either user can enter text by typing on the keyboard and the entered text will appear on the other user's monitor.
Regardless of which software used for chat (ICQ, Skype, Instant Messenger, IRC or Internet Relay Chat, or web sites that have their own chat forums) there are certain things you should do to keep yourself protected.
Basically, common sense works here. Don't give out any personal information. You can't be sure what the other person might plan to do with your personal information or even if the person you are chatting with are who they claim they are.
Most chat programs can keep a history of your chat sessions. Keeping a chat history can be a privacy issue. Imagine chatting with someone about personal things and a significant other comes home and finds the history. Remember to delete history files from chat programs like ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.