Young People’s “friendship with mobile phones” Cause for Concern: Kenyan Catholic Nun

Credit: SIGNIS

The tendency for young people to be absorbed in social media forums, prioritizing “friendship with mobile phones” is a cause for concern, a Kenyan Catholic Nun has said.

Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira who was addressing delegates of the Sixth SIGNIS World Congress 2022 on Tuesday, August 16, at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, said that social media forums are fostering “loneliness and lack of sense of belonging”.

“A lot of people are utilizing the digital world and the majority of these are young people,” Sr. Wachira said on the first of the five-day event, and added, “Young people are becoming social hermits, therefore revealing a disconnect with the culture, revealing that the fabric of our society is getting disconnected.”

“That should worry us as Catholic communicators,” the Kenyan-born member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), commonly known as the Loreto Sisters, told the delegates of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication.

Catholic communicators, she said, “should be very worried that the young people who are forming today and future generations are being disconnected by social media and all this hyperconnected world.”


In her presentation titled, “Connected yet lonely: The Virtual World and the Mirage of Belonging,” Sr. Wachira made reference to her encounters with young people in her native country of Kenya who she established “are making friendship with the mobile phones.”

She went on to recount a testimony, saying, “Recently in Kenya, there was a child who said, in my next life I would like to be a television. And he was asked, ‘Why do you want to be a television?' Because in that way my parents would pay attention to me, because the parents were engaged by just watching the television.”

Social media forums are “forming a fertile ground for mental health and also entrenching loneliness and lack of sense of belonging,” the Loreto Sister told the close to 100 Catholic media practitioners from 32 countries attending in person, with other participants following the session virtually. 

In her view, some social media forums contribute to “the watering down of religio-cultural values, beliefs and norms, that influence the society and we need to worry about that.”

“In African culture, we had stories being told to children. The values were passed through stories,” Sr. Wachira said, and regretted the fact that “we are losing that because of the virtual world.”

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As a way forward, the Catholic nun told delegates of the Sixth SIGNIS World Congress 2022, “We can actually reconnect by looking at the new forms of bringing back these values to our generations.”

“We need to see how we are going to create spaces where virtues of just peace can be created and lived,” she said, and added, “There is need now, for these virtues also to form conversation in the digital world and beyond.”

For this to happen, Sr. Wachira said, “We need to have a paradigm shift by creating those spaces where we connect to love and to be loved, as Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly.”

“The journey continues in searching for ways of creative and meaningful communication using a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a community of people who are free,” the Kenyan Catholic Nun said August 16.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.