Pope Francis said Monday he is worried that youth are too enmeshed in a virtual world of cell phones and other technology, separated, in particular, from the real human contact experienced by performing works of mercy.

Answering a question about youth during a visit with the people of the Diocese of Rome May 14, the pope said that the works of mercy “help young people so much,” because they help them to be grounded in “concreteness” and to “enter into a social relationship.”

“It worries me that they communicate and live in the virtual world,” he said, noting that on a recent visit with youth, instead of extending their hands when they saw him, they “greeted” him with their phones held up, taking photos and selfies.

“Their reality is that… not human contact. This is serious,” he continued. “We have to make young people ‘land’ in the real world. Touch reality. Without destroying the good things the virtual world can have,” because some things are needed, he acknowledged.

Francis spoke during a visit to the cathedral of Rome, the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, for a moment of prayer and to hear about the activities of the diocese. The encounter included Rome’s bishops, priests, religious, and members of the laity, among them representatives of the Catholic schools and various groups.

During the visit, the pope answered four questions, among them a question about young people and what he thought about the pre-synod meeting of over 300 young adults which took place in Rome in March ahead of the Synod of Bishops on young people and discernment.

He said that he had a good impression of the pre-synodal meeting and noted the participants’ hard work during the week to create the pre-synod document, which he said was “very beautiful… strong.”

The young people present “had courage to speak” and “really wanted to speak seriously,” he said.

Read more at Crux.