The Pope on Monday warned youngsters not to choose a virtual world on the internet over real-life experiences.
He insisted they were in danger of alienation and detachment from reality by excessive use of digital media.
Although Pope Benedict XVI did not name sites such as Facebook or Twitter, he alluded to “sharing”, “friends” and “profiles” - jargon commonly used on the social networking sites. The 83-year-old leader of the Roman Catholic Church claimed it was a mistake to seek more virtual friends that real ones when so many internet users created public profiles that were either self-indulgent or plainly false.
He also said it was wrong to always be available online but “less present to those whom we encounter in our everyday life”.
“It is important to remember virtual contact must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives,” the Pope said. “In the search for sharing, for ‘friends’, there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.”