protect the kids

Kate Winslet Got Emotional Talking About Social Media And Kids’ Mental Health

"We want our children back."

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Kate Winslet attends the 2023 BAFTA Television Awards with P&O Cruises at ...
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According to a Pew Research Center survey, kids are using social media now more than ever. A full 95% of teenagers have an account on at least one social media platform, and with the American Psychological Association (APA) releasing a new set of guidelines on social media use for kids, parents should be more concerned than ever about how platforms like TikTok, SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook are impacting our kids’ mental health.

During her BAFTA award acceptance speech, actor Kate Winslet called on legislatures and parents to help protect children from the dangerous of social media in an impassioned speech.

Winslet won the BAFTA for her leading role in I Am Ruth — a Channel 4 miniseries that chronicles the relationship between a mother and her child dealing with mental health struggles coming from social media. She made the film alongside her daughter, Mia Threapleton, who starred in the production.

During her speech, she called for “people in power” to “criminalize harmful content.”

I Am Ruth was made for parents and their children, for families who feel that they are held hostage by the perils of the online world, for parents who wish they could still communicate with their teenagers, but who no longer can,” Winslet said.

She goes on to note just how addicting and dangerous social media can be, especially for kids.

“Please eradicate harmful content, we don’t want it,” she continued. “We want our children back. We don’t want to lie awake, terrified by our children’s mental health.”

Winslet is right to carry such worry. Recent reports have revealed that teen girls are suffering from sadness at alarming rates. According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), 3 in 5 girls felt persistently sad and hopeless — a marker for depressive symptoms — up nearly 60% from 2011.

Also according to the CDC, more than 1 in 4 girls reported they seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, up nearly 60% from 2011. More than 1 in 10 girls reported they attempted suicide in 2021, up 30% from a decade ago.

These sad figures coincide with the latest research noting that many American teenage girls are now spending more time on social media than they spend on sleeping or school work.

Social media use with kids has become such an issue that even some school districts are suing big tech companies for their negligence and technology that, they claim, purposely works to keep kids addicted to their platforms while also divvying out harmful content.

Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit against the companies behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube in a federal district court, alleging that students are being recommended harmful content online, thus contributing to a mental health crisis in teens “marked by higher and higher proportions of youth struggling with anxiety, depression, thoughts of self-harm, and suicidal ideation.”

The lawsuit also references studies that suggest teens who spend a lot of time using screens are more likely to receive diagnoses of depression or anxiety, encounter cyber bullying and not get enough sleep.

According to the lawsuit, social media companies have “exploited the vulnerable brains of youth, hooking tens of millions of students across the country into positive feedback loops of excessive use and abuse.”

Statistics show that improper social media usage by kids can lead to devastating mental health effects which is why Winslet’s impassioned speech should resonate deeply with all parents who feel concern for their kids with underdeveloped, impressionable minds living in a digital age.

She concluded by speaking directly to young people and said, “And to any young person who might be listening, who feels that they are trapped in an unhealthy world: Please ask for help. There is no shame in admitting that you need support. It will be there. Just ask for it.”