Rashmi Pappu » Photographer

Letter to my Daughters | February 25th 2014

Portrait photographer and blogger in Alexandria, Virginia

Dear girls,

Forgive your mama for being such a fuddy duddy about this technology thing. I know sometimes these rules seem so arbitrary and unfair. I am wary and it is because I speak from experience. I know how 5 minutes on a computer becomes 30 minutes before you know it. I know how staring at a screen means not paying full attention to someone speaking right in front of you. I know how fickle the mind is and a mediocre photograph suddenly goes up in value if more than a few people hit the LIKE button, how external validation can be an enemy of creativity. I see how easy it is to be sarcastic, funny and also be misunderstood.  As an adult it gets complicated so I can’t imagine what all this is to a child.

The thing is that friendships and relationships are not that simple. They are complicated, take effort and can be difficult. They are the best bits about life. They can also be the hardest bits when you have to let go of a friendship. Much harder than hitting an Unlike button. Real friendships require effort, getting together and making time. They require you to let your guard down and show your weaknesses and not just your good side. They require asking the right questions, remembering details and reading between the lines. These things don’t come via bits and bytes behind a screen, unless you have real life experience to understand the subtle nuances of online interactions. As you get older, I realize that online social interactions are where you will get a chance to relax and hang out, and I will embrace it then but I think at 10 and 8, you are not quite ready.

I am trying to let go and let you have 30 minutes of game time, let you type up school reports on the computer. But really, I would much rather you play outside, ride bikes, climb trees, draw and craft, read books, get bored and invent new games. I know that this phase doesn’t last long. I know that at age 13 you won’t be playing outside as much and while three years seems like a lifetime to you, it seems like it is around the corner for me. So forgive me now. I promise in 20 years you will understand and perhaps even thank me for the same.

Love you so much that I sometimes make horrid rules you don’t understand.

xo, Mummy

Please follow our lovely blog circle to the talented Sara Tegman, who photographs and writes about her daughters so eloquently.

For the parents out there reading this, the book ‘It’s Complicated: The Social Life of Networked Teens’ by Danah Boyd  is essential reading for all of us today.

  • shalonda - rashmi this parenting thing isn’t for the birds is it?! it stinks to be the rule MAKER but you are oh so right 3 years to them seems like an eternity but to us…a blink of the eye…so beautifully written friend and a good reminder to us allReplyCancel

  • stephanie beaty - Oh Rashmi! this is SO VERY true. I could have written to my 8-year-old son who is enamored with technology and the battles to protect him are just beginning. Such a wonderful reminder of the WHY behind the No.ReplyCancel

  • Debbie Wibowo - We always get to be the bad guy :) Love how you write this letter with humor. I am sure when they are 20 and read this letter again they’ll say, “Mom is always right.”ReplyCancel

  • Kirsty - Oh wise one – you give me a taste of the years to come and a reminder of the things I already feel and fear for our kids growing up in this digital world – we have to be the rule makers, and yet also to let them experience life and it’s such a horribly hard line to tread… you seem to me to be balancing on that tightrope pretty well xxReplyCancel

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