Pope Francis on media's "serious responsibility"

Pope Francis says hours spent consuming content every day, whether on smartphones or televisions, can take a toll on health — particularly for young people.

“What is social media doing to the world and our children?” CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell asked Francis during a recent sit-down interview.

Francis said there are some benefits of communication media because they “have a conscience,” knowing how to report the news and also how to render criticism. That can help with development, he explained. 

But, he admitted, there are also downsides.

“There are communication media that alienate young people, don’t they? It makes them live in an unreal world, made up of fantasy, or in an aggressive world or a rosy world … and so many things,” Francis told O’Donnell.

The pontiff went on to say the media has a “serious responsibility” as an information source for people of all ages.

“A media outlet that only lives off propaganda — off gossip, off soiling others — is a dirty media outlet, and that soils the minds of the young and of the old as well,” he said. 

Francis then asked, “Today, how many hours does a person spend in front of the TV or on their little phones? How many hours?” 

The impact of social media is one of the many topics the pontiff addressed in an hour-long interview with O’Donnell airing on Monday at 10 p.m. ET on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

During a Monday appearance on “CBS Mornings,” O’Donnell said the prime-time special allows more time to discuss in-depth issues — like social media’s impact on kids. 

“You see a part of the pope that I think probably you haven’t seen anywhere else,” O’Donnell told “CBS Mornings.”

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