A tribe in the Amazon has gained access to the Internet. Now the young people are addicted to pornography and violent games

A tribe in the Amazon has gained access to the Internet. Now the young people are addicted to pornography and violent games

Nine months after first gaining satellite internet access, the Marubo tribe in Brazil is deeply divided. The youth have discovered pornography and video games, becoming dependent on their mobile phones, much to the dismay of their parents.

Initially, the isolated community of 2,000 people living near the Ituí River was very excited to have internet access, thanks to Elon Musk’s Starlink service.

"When it arrived, everyone was happy. But now things have worsened. The youth have become lazy because of the internet, following the ways of white people," said Tsainama Marubo, 73, to New York Times.


The Marubo tribe values chastity, and its members, who share the same family name, used to frown even at a public kiss. Now many young people share porn clips in chat groups, and some exhibit increasingly aggressive sexual behavior, said Alfredo Marubo.

"We are worried that they will want to try such things," he said, regarding the explicit sexual acts the youth are exposed to on the internet. "Everyone is so connected that sometimes they don't even talk to their families anymore," added Alfredo.

Starlink works by connecting antennas to satellites in low Earth orbit that transmit the internet signal. The antennas were donated to the Amazonian tribe by American entrepreneur Allyson Reneau.


In the early months, the internet represented a positive change for the isolated tribe, allowing them to quickly reach out to authorities for emergencies such as potentially lethal snake bites. "It has already saved lives," said Enoque Marubo (40 years old).

Members of the tribe have the opportunity to exchange educational resources with other Amazonian tribes and to stay in touch with friends and relatives living elsewhere.

Moreover, the internet has opened up a lot of possibilities for young Marubo people, some of which they could not have imagined before. One young woman said she now dreams of traveling around the world, while another wants to become a dentist in São Paulo.

Starlink in the Amazon Rainforest

However, this window to the world has also opened a Pandora's box. "It has changed the routine so much that it has become harmful. In the village, if you don't hunt, fish, or cultivate something, you don't eat," said Enoque.


"Some young people keep to tradition. Others spend their entire afternoon on their phones," said TamaSay Marubo (42 years old).

The indigenous people have become so dependent on the internet that tribal leaders fear their oral history and culture will be lost forever. So, they have imposed a strict internet usage schedule: two hours in the morning and five hours in the evening, with unlimited access on Sundays.

However, parents fear that the damage has already been done. One father, Kâipa Marubo, is concerned that his sons are captivated by violent first-person video games.

Some tribe members have fallen victim to internet scams due to a lack of digital literacy, and many young people engage with strangers on social networks.

Activist Flora Dutra, who works with indigenous tribes, has helped connect indigenous people to the internet and believes that the concerns are exaggerated.

Nevertheless, some officials in Brazil have criticized the introduction of the internet to isolated communities, as their unique cultures and customs could be lost forever.

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