Should Toddlers Use Tablets? Listeners Weigh In

Host Michel Martin and editor Ammad Omar crack open the listener inbox for backtalk. This week, listeners weigh in on whether toddlers should be using tablet computers and other digital gadgets. Editor's Note: The tweet poem is by Bauke Kamstra. The author was incorrectly identified as Carol Pines.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for BackTalk. That's where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere. Editor Ammad Omar is back with us. What's going on today, Ammad?

AMMAD OMAR, BYLINE: Hey, Michel. Well, we did a parenting segment this week about whether kids should be allowed to use those digital gadgets, iPads and Kindles and whatnot, so all the parents in the roundtable said their kids were allowed to use tablet computers to one degree or another, and that brought out a lot of emails from listeners who said not so fast.

Alan Boxer(ph) wrote to us all the way from Dresden in Germany and here's what he had to say. Quote: I'm the parent of an eight-month-old and cannot imagine letting him own a tablet or anything resembling one until he's past 12 or so. At 27, I know a Gameboy when I see one. Parents can justify giving devices to their babies by telling themselves that their children are learning in new and exciting ways, but children figure things out simply by observing and thinking about their surroundings in their interactions with the world. We adults may want to wile away our free time passively, absorbing entertainment on a screen, but should we let our youngest kids get used to taking in life like that? I for one am saving the Gameboy for his teenage years. It's the natural way of things.

MARTIN: Well, Alan, danke. But we'll see what happens when your eight-month-old becomes, say, six or seven or eight. We'll check back with you on that.

What else do we have to say about that, Ammad?

OMAR: All right. You talked to director Antoine Fuqua and actress Angela Bassett a couple weeks ago about their new movie, "Olympus Has Fallen." Angela Bassett plays the director of the Secret Service and you asked Antoine Fuqua why he cast a woman in that role since there hadn't been a permanent female head of the Secret Service before.

Well, since then, Michel, President Obama appointed the first female Secret Service director in this country's history. Her name is Julia Pearson and she was sworn in last week, so we caught up with Antoine Fuqua to ask him once again about what he thought about that.

ANTOINE FUQUA: I think it's great news. She shattered the glass ceiling. I'm sure she has great experience, so I'm not really surprised about it. I feel like everyone else, that it was a long time coming. I think it was past due, probably. I'm sure that, you know, the measurement was talent and experience and not gender. In "Olympus" I was just trying to make that same point by casting Angela in that same role.

OMAR: All right, Michel. Last bit. Julia Pearson is making news already, but not in the best way, unfortunately. There are reports that some of her personal information, like her Social Security number and her credit report, were hacked and posted online on a website. The Secret Service says it's investigating.

MARTIN: Thanks, Ammad.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Now, we have the latest in our series, Muses and Metaphor. That's how we are celebrating National Poetry Month. We are hearing tweet poems that you're sending us. I'm going to read one. This one comes from Carol Pines(ph) from San Antonio, Texas.

The cost of fear is the amount of life we expend on it. And that goes by really quickly, so let me read it again. The cost of fear is the amount of life we expend on it. That's from Carol Pines from San Antonio, Texas.

And we want to hear from you as we continue to celebrate National Poetry Month. Tweet us your original poetry, fewer than 140 characters. Use the hash tag TMMPoetry and, if your poem is chosen, we will help you record it for us and we'll air it this month. You can learn more at the TELL ME MORE website. Go to NPR.org/TellMeMore.

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