Child using iPad
iPads should be confiscated by headteachers to avoid inappropriate use and bullying, minister saysReuters

The time children spend using iPads and other tablets in UK schools must be reduced to prevent new forms of bullying, the Minister for Children and Families has said.

MP Edward Timpson believes children bringing the tablets in from home and using them at school has led to bullying and harassment, and asked for headteachers to confiscate the devices when they are used "inappropriately".

"A problem in a number of schools which we've sought to address is the iPad or the tablet coming into schools and it forming far too much of the school day's activities of children and it being used inappropriately for some of the bullying and harassment that we know sadly goes on the back of it," Timpson told the House of Lords Communications Committee, according to the Telegraph.

"That's why we've strengthened the powers of headteachers to confiscate and remove material and so on," the Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwich added.

A "technology balance" needs to be struck, according to Timpson, to stop classrooms becoming a "battleground" between teachers and their students.

There is currently no UK-wide law on the use of gadgets like smartphones and tablets in the classroom. Instead it is down to each school to implement and enforce its own rules on when and where children can use the devices. Given over 90% of UK teenagers now own a smartphone, an outright ban in schools would likely be impossible to enforce.

On one hand, students can be easily distracted by games and social networking apps like Facebook on the iPads, but other apps can be used by teachers to enrich the learning experience.

Recognising how keeping children's attention away from iPads will only get more difficult over time, Timpson said: "Children will be spending more of their life living through a tablet. It is the direction we now know is going to be taking hold for the foreseeable future and we have to respond to that."

Where once Apple sold its Mac computers at discounted rates to schools, the company now pitches the iPad range as its primary education device. In the US the company has pushed to make iPads and apps a central part of a child's education, and recently launched an app called Classroom to help teachers share content with their class, as well as monitor performance and manage work.