Barcelona declares the abuse of social networks by minors a “public health problem” | Latest news from Catalonia

The plenary session of Barcelona City Council agreed this Friday to declare “the effects of the abuse of social networks and digital platforms on the well-being and mental health of children and adolescents as a public health problem.” In a text proposed by the Government of Mayor Jaume Collboni that has had contributions from the municipal groups of Junts, ERC and the Commons, only Vox has voted against. Formally, it is an institutional declaration and also plans to offer digital guidance and training to minors and families, the creation of a guide to good practices, and urge the rest of administrations to “promote appropriate measures in matters of public and mental health and establish public controls.” about algorithms.” The statement comes after the announcement from New York City, which has gone much further and sued major social networks for “fueling the mental health crisis.”

The proposal has been defended by the deputy mayor for Social Rights, Maria Eugènia Gay, who has argued that the abuse of social networks is a “new phenomenon that increasingly contributes to issues such as distortion of body image, eating disorders , sleep disorders, dissatisfaction or greater exposure to cyberbullying.” The councilor also recalled that the survey of risk factors in adolescence indicates that the city's kids spend up to eight hours watching screens on weekdays.

Harmony between Collboni and ERC

The ordinary plenary session of the month of February began with a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the Valencia fire. Before, there was an effusive greeting between Mayor Jaume Collboni and the president of the ERC municipal group, Elisenda Alamany, with whom this week he reached an agreement on the budgets and with whom everything indicates that he will agree on a Government agreement, in the absence to know what will happen to the Ada Colau commons. The harmony between the PSC and the Republicans has been replicated in two votes linked to the social use of Catalan.

First, in the executive part of the plenary session, the constitution of a study commission on the use of language in the digital sphere and among young people has gone forward. And then, in the part of promoting and controlling the groups, an ERC proposal has been approved (with the support of the PSC, Comuns and Junts) that urges the municipal executive to take the use of Catalan into account when to obtain subsidies from the City Council. The idea, ERC has defended, is that just as the subsidy plan establishes “strategic objectives of a transversal nature such as that the projects have an intercultural or gender perspective… the promotion of the social use of Catalan is included as a transversal objective to favor their presence” in any project, Alamany has defended.

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Without any other notable issues in the executive part of the plenary session, during the promotion and control part the prominence has been taken by other current issues such as the drought, the mobilizations of farmers and ranchers (a text has been approved to support their demands by unanimity), or the invasion of Gaza. Regarding drought, a commons proposal for measures to control the use of water by the tourism sector has been approved. But it has been substantially lowered after negotiating the text with the PSC. Finally, it provides subsidies to reduce domestic consumption by renewing appliances, reinforcing energy advice points or urging the Barcelona Metropolitan Area to segregate hotel consumption and penalize the most exaggerated ones. But the idea of ​​“penalizing the waste of water in luxury establishments or large consumers” or of making their consumption public has disappeared from the text.

The mayor avoids condemning the presence of Israel in Mobile

Faced with the harmony with ERC, although without going any further or raising the tone, there has been a clash between the mayor and his former partner and predecessor, Ada Colau. The leader of the commons has asked him in an intervention in the prayers section to “take a position contrary to the presence of the Israeli embassy and Israeli companies” present at the Mobile World Congress, and to “not participate in the official greeting where the Israeli institutions and institutional representatives of Israel are in the city.” Colau recalled that after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the GSMA banned Russian companies from the show and now Israeli firms are allowed to participate. Collboni has responded that she will participate in the official agenda from her position as president of Fira de Barcelona, ​​as Colau did in her day: in the previous lunch and dinner, in the inauguration and in the visit of stands. “In the Gaza conflict our position is clear, the same as that of Spain, President Pedro Sánchez, or Josep Borrell” responded and explained that he would respond from the presidency of the Plenary “the same thing that I did in private”: “No. I will participate in no boycott.” At Colau's insistence, Collboni has assured, without giving more details, that his speech at the official dinner next Sunday “will be liked by the councilor and the majority of Barcelonans.”

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