Vatican orders nuns to spend less time on Twitter and Facebook

The Vatican issued a new directive last Tuesday that ordered nuns, who are active on Twitter and Facebook, to limit the time they spend on social media.

(REUTERS/Max Rossi)Pope Francis greets a group of nuns during the general audience at the Vatican.

Highlighted under the section on social communication in the document "Cor Oran," was a legislation that asked nuns to practice "sobriety and discretion" when using social media. The directive also called for nuns to pay attention to the type of online content they read, as there are "noise, news and words" that could disrupt their life of contemplation.

"Cor Oran," which means "Praying for Heart" in Latin, also touched on the Apostolic Constitution that Pope Francis released in 2016. It included guidelines on the spiritual, legal and administrative life in the monastery. Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo also told the press that they consulted with nuns based in monasteries before releasing the 34-page order.

The news comes after a group of nuns from Spain recently attracted headlines because they posted a protest on Facebook over the acquittal of five men who raped a teenager during a festival in 2016. Some 16,000 users shared the post that received over a thousand comments and nearly 15,000 reactions.

The Digital Nun, Sister Catherine Wybourne, however, wrote on her blog that while there she agrees that there must be discretion, the directive is a "heavy-handed approach to facets of modern life." The nun has around 20,000 Twitter followers.

But social media indulgence isn't just a problem among people whose vocation is a life of contemplation. A study published in 2015 revealed that constant exposure on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms affects people's personal and professional life.

"Personal social media usage leads to negative effects, both on efficiency and wellbeing," Prof. Stoney Brooks of the Middle Tennessee State University stated in his report. "Inefficiencies in task performance can result from the time spent on the interruption and the challenge in mentally returning to the primary task," he added.

Another study also revealed that social media use increases the risk of depression and anxiety among users. Experts recommended imposing policies for intervention and education, as it matters to public health.