Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet has called for harmful online content to be criminalised – echoing the Molly Rose Foundation (MRF)’s push to strengthen the Online Safety Bill.
Winslet made her plea when she picked up the leading actress prize at the Bafta TV awards on Sunday, as the House of Lords continues its scrutiny of the Bill.
The actress starred alongside her daughter Mia Threapleton in I Am Ruth which chronicles the relationship between a mother and child who is dealing with mental health pressures coming from the online world.
She told audiences at the ceremony: “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.
“And for young people who have become addicted to social media and its darker sides, this does not need to be your life to people in power, and to people who can make change, please, criminalise harmful content.
“Please eradicate harmful content, we don’t want it.
“We want our children back.”
An MRF spokesperson said: “It makes no difference if you are winner of a Best Actress Bafta or the heir to the throne*, families across the UK are concerned about keeping children safe in our unregulated digital world.
“It’s not only the readily found harmful content that causes concern but also the tech platforms’ algorithms that push digital dangers to vulnerable young people every day. We know that most children in high school have seen harmful content online, and more worryingly, most have not sought it out.
“It’s time the government listened to the chorus of concerned parents and delivered an Online Safety Bill that is commensurate to the scale of this growing 21st century problem. Sadly, the worried majority have good reason to call for change, and while the platforms are allowed to continue to monetise misery, those widespread worries will remain.”
Winslet added: “We don’t want to lie awake, terrified, by our children’s mental health 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.”
*Prince William made a rare personal comment upon the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Molly Russell last year.
The father-of-three, who has campaigned on mental health regularly in the past, tweeted: “No parent should ever have to endure what Ian Russell and his family have been through. They have been so incredibly brave. Online safety for our children and young people needs to be a prerequisite, not an afterthought.”
If you’re struggling just text MRF to 85258 so you can speak to a trained volunteer from Shout, the UK’s Crisis Text Line service