For the first time in his life, Sivert Klefsaas has his very own Instagram and Snapchat accounts.
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It’s highly unusual for an American teen to stay off social media platforms until their 18th birthday, as Sivert did, but he did it for a very good reason. When he was just 12 years old, his mother and he made a pact: If he stayed off social media until he was 18, she’d give him $1,800.
At the time, Sivert thought it was a fantastic deal! “Being 12, I didn’t really have that great of a concept of money yet. So, I was like oh sick, yeah, absolutely,”he said with a laugh.
Mom Lorna Klefsaas says she instigated the “18 for 18 challenge” because she’d seen how social media can have a negative impact on teens. The Motley, Minnesota mother has three older daughters, and she’d already seen problems arise from their online activity.
“I had concerns over how I had seen it being used,” said Lorna. “One of my daughters in particular got deeply involved with it, where it was affecting her mood, her friendships. It was hurting her feelings. She had anxiety about keeping up streaks, and that just ended up being really detrimental to her. So I thought, ‘Boy if I could, I’d be willing to do whatever to keep Sivert off as long as I could, whatever that looks like.'”
Sivert admits that he had moments of regret about signing on for the challenge. “I think halfway through I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I want to be done,'” he said. “But then I was like, well, then I did the last three years for nothing. So it was a pride issue.”
Because he avoided the pitfalls of the internet, Sivert channeled all of his energy into sports and academics. He also found he enjoyed avoiding the drama that comes with social media. Lorna says her investment paid off in full!
“I know in retrospect, I would pay a lot more than $1,800 to get the results that we had.”
Lorna urges other parents to consider trying an 18 for 18 challenge with their kids if they can afford it. She also advises modeling the behavior you want to see in your children. If they see you staring at devices all day, they will likely do likewise.
These days, Sivert has a lot of catching up to do. He says he’s a bit behind on web trends and memes, but he’s having a good time seeing what he’s been missing, and not missing, for the past 6 years.
“Social media is great. Absolutely use it,” he said. But “make sure you invest time in other areas of your life too, especially those in-person relationships.”
We love the idea of refocusing a teenager’s energy towards productive pursuits! The internet can be an incredible resource and social outlet, but sometimes focusing a little closer to home is better for everyone.
Share this story to hear what other parents think of Lorna’s 18 for 18 challenge!
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