(D) I am 16 years old and attend grammar school, 9th grade. I’m a computer addict. (V) My name is Vanessa, I’m 18 years old and attend the Johann Friedrich von Cotta school in the east of Stuttgart. It is an economic school for athletes. (G) My name is Gabriella, and approx. 7 years ago I learnt about the world of the www, especially about chat rooms. How do you become an internet addict? (D) I believe I already sat as a small child in front of a computer, but it got worse when I got mobbed in school – I basically went into hiding in the computer world. (G) I was pretty alone here, had just arrived from Italy, had no friends apart from my partner, my boyfriend, and saw the internet as a save haven. I was happy there, chatting with people, something I couldn’t do in reality. (D) Via the internet I got to know people who became really good friends and they had the same problems as I did – and I could talk to them about it. Therapist: Internet addictions is a long term problem, because of not doing well in school, the social withdrawal occurs, friends get less and less and the addict tries to solve problems virtually. This can in the long run influence the social behaviour a great deal, something which is often very difficult to correct later in life. The adolescents only learn to move in virtual spaces and not in real life. (D) Non existing friendships is another topic – one does get to know people via the internet. Some of them it is difficult to speak to or there is simply nothing to say and I can’t judge them, but other I got to know quite well and would call them friends. Therapist: I’m doubtful to call those people friends as you don’t know them really. You may have an idea and it is likely that you are able to see some aspects of them, but it is completely different than having someone sitting in front of you and it is therefore quite dangerous as you may be wrong about someone. One wish is obviously to get to know people and find those like-minded to feel part of a group – still most of those people stay anonymous and like this protection. (G) Sometimes, but slowly I wondered why I go into the internet and what I get out of it – nothing material. But I felt good – psychologically and when I was lonely it helped me to communicate. (D) In the beginning it was only something like four hours – quite a lot – so even before I started to get bullied I spend a lot of time in the internet, but I was bullied I spend six hours and more in the internet. (G) I was in the internet daily, hours and I once managed to chat for 13 hours in a row. (V) Back then I sat in front of the computer much more than now, because I am now in school till 4 in the afternoon and leave at 6 for training, so I’m only shortly at home. But when I used to live in Ostfildern I was in the internet long hours. Sometimes school finished at one, so I spend the rest of the day in front of the computer. Therapist: Some people manage to find friends, alleged friends in the internet, and get their rewards through for example role playing games. They get their pleasure from those people and that holds the danger, that the virtual world it so nice, that they can’t leave it without noticing it. (D) If the computer life is better than real life it is very difficult to stop playing games. You forget everything around you, homework, even going to bed and eating. (G) One chats until late at night. For me that was so fascinating, that I didn’t clean my flat anymore – rather embarrassing to tell. I also didn’t eat and lost lots of weight, I simply didn’t take of me – which is pretty unusual for a 20 year old girl – I looked scruffy – but it simply didn’t interest me. (D) I notice that – especially since I’m computer addicted I don’t do any kind of sports. I was never very sporty, but now I don’t do anything. (G) I couldn’t build or draw plans – the most important thing was the computer. (D) I really enjoy it and I think that is understandable, and I will always be someone to play computer games, but I do need to reduce it. That will be hard, but I do have to sort out quite a few things in my life and that will be the most difficult part. I don’t have a problem to leave the computer, because I also enjoy real life. Therapist: I think it is a challenge for our society to teach adolescents ideals which they can enjoy. Our current value system is focused on capitalism and individualism and doesn’t help younsters to find their way, including the lack of perspectives and high unemployment – those things easily lead people to escape into virtual worlds. (G) At one point my boyfriend said that is too much, he said he wouldn’t let me anymore on the net and said that he was still there too. I had completely forgotten that he was there. When we started going out more, I didn’t place so much importance on the computer and that is wasn’t the centre point of my life. I realised that real life, meeting real friends is more important than sitting in front of the computer and chat with strangers or search for nonsense. I really saw how much there is to real life. Therapist: Well, it is important to set targets in real life, targets which one has to keep and to control yourself. It is important to do that on your own. For example, today I only play 2 hours and on the weekend only 4 hours per day. (G) To realize the addiction was a main part in the process, to be able to say I’m addicted, I have a problem. Who was really helpful was my partner, who tried with various methods – the nice and the hard one to get me out of there. He either said things like “I’m going to smash that stupid box with a hammer” or he said things like “Darling, I love you, don’t you love me anymore? It that computer more important than our relationship?” Those sentences were always in the back of my mind when I was chatting. (D) I think I knew all the time that I was addicted, but I’m not sure whether I saw it as a problem – I don’t really remember. (G) All I know is that my life was miserable, I wasn’t happy, only when I was chatting, when I was looking for new chatting platforms and new people…. I remember having 10 chat windows open at once, because I wanted to chat with all those people at once. Now that is hard to imagine, even chatting with one stranger. Now I use the internet as a communication tool to chat with friends form Italy, as it is cheaper than talking on the phone, so we set a time and date, chat for an hour and that’s it. (V) It is not an emotion – it is more of a habit. When you come home and start the computer, you chat with your friends… yeah it is a habit, something you do daily without thinking about it. Boy: The bad thing on the net is for one thing, that if you don’t have security for children, you can get on those pages promoting violence and what is also very annoying is all the spam mail and advertising. Boy in red jumper: I really enjoy the possibility of getting all sorts of information, about everything from all over the world and to write e-mails. I use the internet a lot for Ebay and emailing and to gather information for school. Girl in pink jacket: I use the internet for school, google and sometimes ICQ to chat with my friends. Boy in pink jumper: Well it usually depends, but what happens quite a bit is that I just before I want to log of, find something really interesting, so I stay put. But by then I often already find it annoying and finish off. Blond girl: As I said before I use for shopping, I like that to order online. Blond, curly girl: I mainly use the internet to get information about events or to go shopping in Ebay. Gild long hair: The greatest thing about the internet is that you can chat with friends who don’t live close and one doesn’t see very often and of course to look things up, if you need it for school or projects.