Hey Kids, Pope Francis Wants You To Stop ‘Chatting On The Internet Or Using Smartphones’ So Much

FILE - In this file photo Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 Pope Francis has his picture taken inside St. Peter's Basilica with youths from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio who came to Rome for a pilgrimage, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, File)
Pope Francis before he took his anti-smartphone stance
AP/ L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

On Tuesday night, Pope Francis told a group of 50,000 German altar boys on a pilgrimage in Rome that they should basically stop wasting their lives on technological devices and go out and do something positive.

Well, if the pope said it, shouldn’t you listen?

“Maybe many young people waste too many hours on futile things,” Pope Francis said, according to NBC. “Our life is made up of time, and time is a gift from God, so it is important that it be used in good and fruitful actions.”

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But what does the 77-year-old pope consider to be a “futile thing?”

“Chatting on the Internet or with smartphones, watching TV soap operas, and (using) the products of technological progress, which should simplify and improve the quality of life, but distract attention away from what is really important,” he said.

This is not the first time the leader of the Catholic Church has spoken out against technology.

Last week, Catholic News Service reported, he told people to turn off their televisions while they eat dinner, because “even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime ‘doesn’t let you communicate’ with each other.”

Don’t let these two statements make you think Pope Francis is completely anti-technology—on World Communication Day last June, the Vatican News said he called the Internet a “gift from God.”

“In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all,” he said. “Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity.”

Though Pope Francis’s comments seem contradictory, The Washington Post pointed out that teens “send an average of 60 texts a day. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, young adults spend over seven hours a day in front of a screen of some kind — even as their unstructured play time plunges closer to zero.” Maybe it’s improving the quality of the time we send online—not the quantity—that the pope wants us to focus on.

As for his own internet use, Pope Francis currently has nine Twitter accounts with nearly 15 million followers.