Archbishop urges parents not to buy smartphones as Communion gifts
The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has warned parents against buying smartphones for their children as a Communion present, saying there are "an awful lot of people" who would exploit them.
Archbishop Eamon Martin also expressed concern at the 'selfie' generation's need for instant gratification, which manifests in them constantly checking their phone for 'likes' and obsessing over photographs.
Speaking to the Irish Independent at the 'Faith in the Digital World' seminar in Maynooth yesterday, Dr Martin said parents sometimes feel pressured into buying a mobile with internet access for their young children as a Communion present. "That is just crazy. We wouldn't allow children to wander around the streets unsupervised - why do we feel they can wander around the digital highways unsupervised?" he said.
"There are an awful lot of people out there who would exploit young people and parents have to be aware of that and be sensible," he added.
In his address to delegates, he highlighted the massive impact of "screen culture" on young people and their exploitation online through the harvesting of their data, identity theft and scams.
"The Church should recognise that digital technology, and especially social media, is now a permanent part of the life and identity of the majority of young people, and increasingly so, of all of us," he said.
He also expressed concern over the 'selfie' generation's need for instant gratification. He said they can constantly check their phone and spend hours obsessing over a profile picture, or even view which macabre videos of road accidents or terrorist attacks.