Hamilton Heights School resource officers create technology-free rooms for students

Technology free rooms. (WISH photo)

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — A concept to get kids away from technology is expanding in one central Indiana school district.

Two school resource officers in the Hamilton Heights School Corporation have created technology-free rooms in the middle and elementary schools.

The concept started last year in the middle school.

The school resource officers created the “Dawg Pound,” a technology-free room with the exception of an Xbox and TV kids have to use together, after concerns of the negative impact of technology on kids, lack of face-to-face communication between kids and other serious issues.

“Sexting cases, cyber bullying cases, all these different things that are coming through our offices that we’re dealing with. It’s not once a month, it’s not once a week, it’s daily in the sense that at times you’re looking into what you’ve heard that a child has told you about is true or did somebody do this negative thing on the phone or is this negative conversation being carried on,” said Hamilton County Deputy and School Resource Officer Jonathan Tindal.

Deputy Josh Ireland, the school resource officer at Hamilton Heights Elementary, also had those concerns. So, he created a similar technology free room this year called the “Puppy Pound.” It’s a reward-based room. Teachers nominate kids who are behaving well to go to the room for 30 to 40 minutes during the day where they can play Jenga, foosball, and other games while interacting with each other. Fourth graders have been allowed to use the room, but it will be expanding to 3rd and 5th graders.

“We’ve seen a lot of increase in good behavior, the teachers have told us. The kids always want to come in here,” said Deputy Ireland.

The Hamilton County Youth Assistance Program is partnering with the school resource officers.

The officers hang out with the kids and say it has improved their relationship with all of the kids in the school.

The two plan to create an after school and weekend program full of technology-free activities.