Case 5: A small computer brings a big surprise

The youngsters participating in the Austrian pilot received a small computer (Netbook) at the beginning of the project. So there was not only the risk of social isolation because of intensified use of computers, but also the possible problem that other youngsters might become jealous because of this 'privilege' of getting a computer for free (these are issues frequently mentioned in the media and literature). In practical experience it turned out to be totally different as the example from the Viennese youth centre Donaustadt shows.

The youngsters there use their Netbooks at home, of course, but they also bring it to the youth centre; in fact, they have become more mobile in general, taking the Netbook with them almost everywhere. The youngsters from the pilot were also shown how to use WLAN and how to find open and free networks, e.g. in coffee shops, etc. and access the internet there. They also pass the knowledge on to other young people and are even willing to share the Netbooks while with their friends. So the internet does not create or increase social distance but seems to support improving social behaviour in this case.