The Catholic Church in England has warned that websites such as Facebook and MySpace are pushing teenagers to view friendship as a "commodity" and ultimately leading them to commit suicide.
Archbishop Nichols, who is the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, blamed social network sites for leaving children with impoverished friendships. He stressed that the internet and mobile phones were "dehumanising" community life and that relationships had been weakened by the decline in face-to-face meetings.
"I think there's a worry that an excessive use or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we're losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that's necessary for living together and building a community," the Archbishop of Westminster was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph on Sunday.
Underlining that he was "wary" about Facebook and MySpace, the top bishop warned that the sites are contributing to a trend for teenagers to put too much importance on the number of friends they have and that this can ultimately lead to suicide.
The top bishop also raised concerns about the rise of individualism. He described footballers who break their contracts to move to other clubs for bigger salaries as "mercenaries" and said moves to loosen laws on assisted suicide were particularly worrying.