Social networking sites leave children with impoverished friendships and this can ultimately lead to suicide, warns Archbishop Nichols.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has warned that social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace encourage ‘transient relationships’ and ultimately lead youngsters to commit suicide. He also said that the Internet and mobile phones were “dehumanising” community life and that relationships had been weakened by the decline in face-to-face meetings. “I think there’s a worry that an excessive use or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we’re losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that’s necessary for living together and building a community,” Archbishop Nichols told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
His comments follow the suicide of a 15-year-old schoolgirl. Last week, Megan Gillan, a student at Macclesfield High School in Cheshire, took a fatal overdose of painkillers after being bullied on social networking site Bebo.
The Archbishop also stressed that the sites are contributing to a trend for teenagers to put too much importance on the number of friends they have and that this can ultimately lead to suicide.
“It’s an all or nothing syndrome that you have to have in an attempt to shore up an identity; a collection of friends about whom you can talk and even boast. But friendship is not a commodity,” Nichol said. “Friendship is something that is hard work and enduring when it’s right.”