Lorna Klefsaas paid her teen son, Sivert, $1,800 to stay off social media for six years. (Lorna Klefsaas)
MOTLEY, Minn. - A mother had a unique idea to get her son to enjoy his teenage years without the added pressure of Instagram, Facebook, or any other apps.
She paid him $1,800 to stay off social media for six years.
Lorna Klefsaas of Motley, Minnesota, said she heard about a similar challenge before propositioning her then 12-year-old son, Sivert, the youngest of four children.
"I was already a little sensitive to social media since his siblings had struggled with it a bit," Lorna told FOX Television Stations. "I watched social media cause stress, anxiety and hurt feelings in my other kids and I loved the idea of coming up with a way to spare Sivert from that."
She came up with the monetary amount to reflect the age at which he could re-join social media. She said her son agreed immediately. The deal ended this past Saturday when Sivert turned 18 years old.
"When I was 12 I thought $1,800 was A LOT of money!!" Sivert told FOX Television Stations. "I had big plans for what I was going to buy!"
Sivert said before the challenge, he only had a Snapchat account but deleted it after one day.
The teenager said it wasn’t too difficult to stay off social media. Lorna said she trusted her son to uphold his end of the deal but allowed him the option to quit.
"There were definitely times where I wanted to crack," Sivert said. "When I met new people and the only contact information they offered was Snap, that was a little hard. And there were times I missed out on inside jokes or TikTok trends, but I found ways to be informed! My friends would eventually fill me in!"
The teen said he now has Snapchat and Instagram accounts, but the challenge did teach him a bit about human behavior.
"I saw friends being consumed by social media and I didn't want that to be me," he continued. "I also learned that people can be really mean over social media. And I saw how damaging that was to people. I might have been sad about missing out on a few things, but I was happy to miss out on all of that drama."
The negative effects of social media on young people’s mental health are well-documented by researchers and the press. Social media can drive envy and depression, enable cyberbullying and spread thoughts of suicide. However, other studies reveal that people feel more social support when they present themselves honestly on social media, and tend to feel less stressed after they do so.
But social media companies are enacting measures to combat the negative effects of using their apps.
Last year, Instagram launched a feature that urges teenagers to take breaks from the photo-sharing platform. The social media platform also said it’s developing features that will stop people from tagging or mentioning teens that don’t follow them, nudge young users to other things if they have been focused on one topic for a while and be stricter about what posts, hashtags and accounts it recommends to try to cut down on potentially harmful or sensitive content.
As for the money, Sivert wants to use it towards dormitory supplies when he starts college such as a television.
"Social media is awesome but it's not your whole life," he added. "There are other more important things. You can step away for a little bit and be ok! You will find other ways to stay connected!"
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.