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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Social media can play vital role in connecting young people of faith

Social media could potentially play a vital role in connecting young people of faith, a post-grad student has said.

Emma Tobin, a 22-year-old post-graduate student from Newbridge, Co Kildare, was one of two young people, along with Oisín Walsh, who reflected on their peer group’s experience of digital media during a seminar held at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, to mark World Communications Day 2019.

Ms Tobin, who is an award winning writer and poet and will commence a Masters’ in Creative Writing in University College Dublin this coming September, admitted that it can be quite isolating, as a young person of faith, in secondary school.

“It’s the age when it’s trendy, and important, to question what our parents have taught us,” she said, explaining that most of her friends saw only what the media and the internet were telling them about religion.

“My best friend in the world at that time told me in a whisper, during math class, that she believed in God, and she didn’t care what anyone else thought. But she still whispered, and it felt like a secret between us,” she told those gathered for the Faith in the Digital World seminar, titled ‘Believers in the Digital Space: Opportunities for Mission’.

Ms Tobin went on to explain that social media can be important to young people of faith “because it is often not cool to have faith, and it can isolate young people, and therefore make them more likely to let their faith slip away”.

“Social media has the potential to connect people, to give them spaces where they are able to live their faith,” she said.

“I would have loved, in secondary school, to have seen my parish using Facebook and their own website to reach out to young people and get them involved in what interests young people above all else – action,” she added, before listing various points of action, such as “Climate action, social justice action, helping the homeless, helping migrants”.

“At its heart faith is about action, and love, and neighbourliness, and getting young people involved in programmes where they can see the positivity they are bringing into the world is so important, and social media is the way to get people involved.”

Picture: Social media icons Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Pinterest. (Nick Ansell/PA).