Kate Winslet's Speech About the Dangers of Social Media

Kate Winslet claimed, in her speech at the BAFTAS, that some parents would like to communicate with their children but are unable to do so. In her emotional speech, she spoke of the dangers of social media.
Kate Winslet's Speech About the Dangers of Social Media
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 09 May, 2024

Kate Winslet moved everyone during her speech at the 2023 British Academy Television Awards (BAFTA) gala. After receiving her award for best actress, for the drama I Am Ruth, she shared a small, but forceful message. She gave her voice to all those young people and their families who are captives of the darkest effects of social media.

Winslet is more than just a great actress. Her words permeated the social world and that of the media. They were genuine and emotional and it’s hardly surprising that much of what she said has gone viral. In fact, she’s been talking to us about the effects of body shaming for years. She also frequently defends female solidarity and empowerment. Let’s take a look at her speech.

“We don’t want to lie awake, terrified for our children’s mental health.”

~ Kate Winslet, BAFTA TV Awards speech, 2023 ~

I Am Ruth, an essential movie

The BAFTA Awards annually recognize the most outstanding productions on the small screen. This year, I Am Ruth took home the award for best dramatic film and Kate Winslet took the best actress statuette. Both were well deserved.

The film formed part of a Channel 4 anthology, created by filmmaker Dominic Savage. I Am Ruth is the third part of this production focused on the stories of several women and their hard perspectives on life. The production harshly and authentically portrays social media addiction, body image issues, and complex mother-daughter relationships.

Interestingly, the film also features Mia Threapleton, the real daughter of Kate Winslet and to whom she dedicated her award.

Threapleton plays Freya, a young woman who’s increasingly isolating herself from her family due to her dysfunctional and obsessive dependence on apps like Instagram and TikTok. It’s an intimate, heartbreaking, and emotional audiovisual canvas with which many people will identify.

You might also like to read Social Media Causes Isolation in Teens

Kate Winslet and her call for action

I Am Ruth is an uncomfortable mirror, a warning cry, and a metaphor for what’s hidden in numerous homes today. Kate Winslet didn’t hesitate in taking advantage of receiving her award to denounce the impact of social media on the mental health of young people.

She did so at the same time that the British House of Lords was legislating its Online Safety Bill. So, what were the most important points of her speech? Let’s find out.

The isolation of young people due to social media

The central idea in Kate Winslet’s speech at the BAFTAs was that social media separates young people from their families. This is a fact that we increasingly see among the child and adolescent population, for the following reasons:

  • Emotional isolation. Young people spend increasingly more hours in the digital universe. Almost without realizing it, they experience a progressive emotional disconnection from their family environment. They stop being interested in the people around them and all their attention is hijacked by the screen. They don’t need anything else. Moreover, they don’t care about anything else.
  • Social comparison. Social media is a showcase of ideal lives and bodies where young people build their identities. What happens on Instagram and TikTok is especially relevant, because it’s where they build their self-concept through social comparison. This is a clearly self-destructive dynamic in which what happens at home loses its relevance.

Young people between the ages of 12 and 20 are going through a critical state in their neurological development. Research conducted by Emory University (USA) highlights the serious effects of social isolation on their neural architecture, due to their lack of interaction with the environment. Indeed, the consequences on their mental health are immense.

“Please eradicate harmful content. We don’t want it. We want our children back.”

~ Kate Winslet ~

The digital universe and its impact on the mental health of young people and their families

Social media is an extraordinary mechanism for learning, interacting, and connecting with other people. However, not all online content is optimal, nor does everyone make good use of it. In fact, there are many families who see progressive and striking changes in the personality and behavior of their children.

Kate Winslet, during her speech at the BAFTAs, insisted on the need to penalize harmful content. More specifically, she was referring to all the publications that destroy the self-concept of young people and invalidate their bodies, individual potential, and worth. These phenomena appear with great rawness and emotional impact in the film, I Am Ruth.

Online content harms people’s general health due to the following:

  • Online bullying.
  • Progressive isolation.
  • Addiction and dependence on social media.
  • Potential security and privacy issues.
  • Distraction and poor academic performance.
  • Social comparison and low self-esteem. Research published in Acta Psychologica states that the use of social media has, on average, a greater impact on the physical image and self-esteem of adolescents. It affects girls more than boys.
  • Mental health problems. Variables such as those mentioned above frequently build the substrate of depressive disorders, as revealed by research conducted by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (USA). We also shouldn’t ignore suicidal behaviors and eating disorders.

You might be interested to read The Impact of Social Media on Eating Disorders

An insane world where aid and content regulation is key

In her speech at the BAFTAs, Kate Winslet didn’t hesitate in addressing young people themselves, urging them to ask for help, put shame aside, and take the step toward help. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the domains of social media, the judging scenario that dictates what’s attractive, who’s successful, and who’s flawed. The tyranny of likes’ and views mustn’t dominate our lives.

You probably remember the sad case of Molly Russell, the 14-year-old girl who committed suicide due to the messages she received on social media. Because, at that time, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok, lacked filters and adequate regulation of what was created and shared. Consequently, there were unfortunate consequences for many adolescents.

However, one of the objectives of society is to lay the foundations of a healthy digital universe, in which the child and adolescent population is protected. Here are some guidelines:

  • Transparency when it comes to knowing how the different network algorithms work.
  • Promoting healthy screen time from childhood. It doesn’t mean prohibiting, but knowing how to educate in the use of these resources.
  • Educating youngsters in digital literacy and online well-being. Parents should also be up to date in these areas.
  • Committed and strict regulatory policies. The content that threatens the self-esteem of our young people must be regulated.
  • Urge that platforms comply with safety and user protection standards. These regulations should address aspects such as protection against cyberbullying, content dissemination, and privacy protection.
  • Joint commitment is required between the social media platforms themselves, users, parents, educators, and policymakers. Indeed, the goal of regulating and shaping a digital world that’s more ethical and respectful of mental health is a task for us all.

“And to any young people who might be listening, who feel that they are trapped in an unhealthy world: Please ask for help. There is no shame in admitting that you need support.”

~ Kate Winslet ~

Tips for healthy use of social media for young people

Based on the message transmitted by the actress, what recommendations should we apply so that young people make proper use of social media? Good parental control on the Internet is essential. They should establish and agree on time limits on the use of technology and promote a balance between offline and online activities. Here are some more recommendations:

  • Promote good communication and trust with children.
  • Educate from an early age with regard to their foray into the digital world.
  • Promote critical thinking and enhance their self-esteem and self-concept.
  • Teach them aspects related to privacy and online safety.
  • Demonstrate responsible use of technologies and networks. In other words, be the best example for them to follow. 

Kate Winslet’s speech at the BAFTAs was a wake-up call we mustn’t forget. An advanced and committed society is the kind that safeguards the well-being of the younger generations. They’re the future. Let’s start by addressing their mental health and the one outstanding phenomenon that’s currently governing their lives: social media.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.