BROADBAND AND TECHNOLOGY
Cell and Broadband service is an essential right for everyone. Unfortunately, Indigenous youths are often left behind when it comes to ensuring high-speed, broad access is available.
While many learning, work, and social communications have found success by transitioning to online platforms like Zoom, it has also brought new challenges. Videoconferencing can lead to “Zoom fatigue” as a result of the constant requests for meetings and virtual gatherings. There are often added challenges around collaboration, reading social and physical communications cues, efficiently covering agenda items, and keeping people engaged when there are often competing demands around time and attention, particularly for those working at home.
There is also a disparity in access to technology for off-reserve Indigenous youth versus non-Indigenous or on-reserve Indigenous youth. For one, it is related to hardware, as the cost of equipment is not always affordable. There are also issues around connectivity, as mobile data and internet connections in remote communities aren’t stable in the best of times.
The increase in use of these technologies also results in unprecedented strain on infrastructure, and issues regarding connection speed and bandwidth mean some people and communities can’t access the same tools. Indigenous households are often large and include a higher use for broadband, which often draws from outdated network infrastructure. Poverty is also a barrier. While some temporary COVID-19 support are there, it is not enough to help acquire enhanced tech hardware.
For those living in larger urban areas, there is a gap in urban access points where youth can use computers, and as social distancing requirements have shut down some public spaces, urban Indigenous youth have also lost access to free internet.
Many Indigenous youth are struggling to meet the technology requirements associated with online courses, and the urban populations of marginalized youth don’t have security around access to the internet or computers.