The Pope has warned that the illusion of community online risks turning young people into ‘hermits’, and that narcissism and societal divisions fueled by social media are creating ‘spirals of hatred’.

In his World Day of Social Communications message released on Thursday, Pope Francis said that online discussion is ‘too often based on opposition to the other, the person outside the group: we define ourselves starting with what divides us rather than with what unites us’.

This ‘unbridled individualism’ found on social media ‘sometimes ends up fomenting spirals of hatred’, the Pope said, and giving rise to ‘every kind of prejudice’.

Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile, after landing in Panama on January 23. He has used his World Day of Social Communications message to warn about the dangers of social media turning young people into ‘hermits’ .