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Shifting perceptions, shifting identities: Communication technologies and the altered social, cultural and linguistic ecology in a remote indigenous context



While a digital divide remains evident in many remote Indigenous Australian communities, individual and collective information and communication technologies practices have developed in accordance with broadband, satellite or WiFi availability. This article examines the ways in which Indigenous youth in remote Australia are ‘coming of age’ in contexts where digitally-mediated social interaction is a taken-for-granted aspect of social practice, communication and learning. While there are many positive aspects to this rapid development, it can also lead to intergenerational tensions as young people explore new patterns of behaviour, and older people come to terms with new cultural challenges. Drawing on long-term ethnographic observations in Central Australia, the impact of technology and the shift in perceptions, communication modes, and social and cultural practice across the generations in the Western Desert region are traced.