En route from Sarajevo to Rome on Saturday, Pope Francis told reporters on his plane that parents should not allow their children to have computers in their bedrooms in order to protect them from both the “filth” of pornography and dependence on their electronic gadgets.
“It makes you a slave to the computer,” the pope said, according to Aleteia. “It’s odd, in many families, the fathers and mothers tell me: We’re at the table with the children, and they are with their mobile phones in another world.”
The pope continued that while communication via the Internet and social media is a reality, feeling attached to technology “takes us away from ordinary life, family life, social life, and even from sports, from the arts.”
Pope Francis referred to this level of attachment as “a psychological illness, to be sure!”
He also expressed concern that pornography—which he reportedly referred to as “filth”—and television programs that reflect moral relativism, hedonism, and consumerism are contaminating children’s minds.
Pope Francis referred to consumerism and moral relativism as “cancers of society” and said he will be further addressing these issues in his encyclical on the environment, which is due to be released on June 18.
The pope’s discussion about pornography appeared to be a continuation of his address to young people at the John Paul II Diocesan Youth Center in Sarajevo.
As Rome Reports indicated, Pope Francis set aside his prepared comments in order to take questions from the young Catholics and Orthodox Christians present for his apostolic visit to Sarajevo.
To one young person who asked the pope about whether he watches television and his opinion of the Internet, he responded, “You must learn how to choose what you watch. If I see that a program is not good for me, hurts my values, makes me vulgar or has vulgarity, I have to change the channel.”
Similarly, the pope said that while the Internet can be an educational tool, young people must be responsible with how they use it.
“If you young people become attached [to] the computer, and become a slave to the computer, you lose your freedom,” he said. “And if you look at dirty content on the computer, you lose your dignity. Watch TV and use the computer, but for the good things, the big things, the things that make us grow.”