Refuge in Digital Worlds – the Association of Critical Life Events with Pathological Internet Use in Adolescence The present study sought to clarify the potential relationship between critical life events and pathological internet use in adolescents. A cross-sectional survey was conducted within the framework of a European school-based study (SEYLE) which included a representative sample of 1,444 students from the Rhein-Neckar catchment area. The Young Diagnostic Questionnaire (YDQ) was used to assess pathological internet use, whereas a combination of the List of Threatening Experiences (LTE) and Life Events Checklist (LCE) was administered to assess critical life events over the period of the last six months. Statistical models were adjusted for the presence of psychopathological distress using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). 4.8 % of the participating students reported pathological internet use, 14.5 % met criteria for risky Internet use. Overall, adolescents with risky or pathological internet use recalled more critical life events, particularly within the context of interpersonal relationships and academic performance. After adjusting for sociodemographic variables and psychopathological distress, results showed that an unexpected decrease in academic performance as well as the termination of a romantic relationship, both were significantly associated with pathological internet use. Adolescents with pathological internet use reported significantly more frequent interpersonal problems and an unexpected decrease of academic performance. Based on the cross-sectional nature of the investigation, causality of the association cannot be established. However, results point towards potential risk factors (academic performance, termination of relationships) which may guide the identification of adolescents with risky or pathological internet use in child- and adolescent psychiatry.