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The fact that in chatroom interactions nothing can be taken for granted, when taken to an extreme, creates a Wonderland that can be compelling.

Involvement in it can become the most ‘real’ world in which you act, as Sherry Turtle puts it, quoting one of her informants, ‘RL’ (‘Real Life’). Currently the sites where these experiments with the presentation of self are most common are in text–based chatrooms, but chatrooms are themselves changing, being linked to ‘reality TV’, becoming hybridised with SMS (text messaging) and extending into other forms.

In this paper we describe a particular set of Internet–based interactions that have great appeal to young people but create most anxiety among parents and other adults. In the main they were concerned about security rather than pornography, which they saw as amusing rather than harmful.

During the period 2000–2002 we conducted more than 200 interviews with children and young people and conducted case studies in homes, schools, libraries, cybercafes and other places where the Internet is accessed. But it was also clear from our interviews that many were more active in chatrooms than their parents and other adults realised.

Here, using a small set of these interviews, which were made with students in a tutorial centre in Athens [2], we will describe how some young people use the Internet to make relationships with others, and particularly how young women and men use the net to meet and talk to one another.

As a place to meet and talk with strangers, one of the appeals of cyberspace lies in its visual silence.

In the public imagination, there are two sides to the Internet coin.