Pope Francis says the internet, smartphones and TV ‘distract attention away from what is really important’ in life

Messages comes after Pope revealed his top 10 tips for happiness

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The Independent Online

Following the wild success of his top 10 tips for a happy life, Pope Francis has turned his attention to children who spend too much time on the internet “distracted from what is really important”.

Addressing a crowd of 50,000 young German boys and girls who help in their respective churches as altar servers, he warned them that “many young people waste too many hours on futile things”.

The Pope said that these “futile” activities included chatting with others on the internet or via smartphones, as well as watching soap operas on TV.

In his tips, issued to an Argentine weekly newspaper, he had said that TV was “useful for keeping up with the news” but should be turned off during mealtimes so families can talk to each other.

He told the German children, who were in Rome on pilgrimage yesterday, that “the products of technological progress, which should simplify and improve the quality of life, distract attention away from what is really important”.

“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,” he said.

The Pope has previously spoken of his ambivalence regarding technological advancements. He has official Twitter profiles across several languages with millions of followers, and describes the internet as a “gift from God”.

But he has also cautioned that the high-speed world of digital social media needed calm, reflection and tenderness if it was to be “a network not of wires but of people”.