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Mom pays teen son $1,800 to stay off social media until his 18th birthday

“I knew for sure he was going to make it," she said.
Sivert Klefsass holds his cell phone and $1,800 check.
Sivert Klefsass holds his cell phone and $1,800 check.KARE / Courtesy Lorna Klefsass

Lorna Klefsass saw how much her teenage daughter struggled with social media, so when her younger son turned 12, she decided to make him an offer: stay off social media until he was 18 and she would pay him $1,800.

“Being 12, I didn’t really have that great of a concept of money yet. So, I was like oh sick, yeah, absolutely,” Sivert Klefsass laughed to Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE.

“Oh, I had plans," he quipped, as his mom added that he wanted to buy a car.

Despite the eventual realization that $1,800 wasn't going to get him his own set of wheels, Sivert says he stuck with it.

Lorna said she called it the "18 for 18 challenge" — and the idea came from a story she'd heard on the radio about a mom doing the same thing until her child turned 16.

She added that it was the best money she has ever spent, especially after the ordeal with her daughter.

“She got so obsessed with keeping up her Snapchat streaks that really it was affecting her mood. It was affecting her friendships,” Lorna told the TV station. “I mean, it was like an intervention. She was really, really upset, but it was not even three weeks later that she thanked us and said she was so happy to not have her phone.”

Sivert said he is competitive and doesn't like to lose, so he stuck with his mom's social media challenge.
Sivert said he is competitive and doesn't like to lose, so he stuck with his mom's social media challenge. Courtesy Lorna Klefsaas / KARE

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Lorna told KARE that her daughter now has a healthier relationship with social media but she was trying to save her son from the same experience with the challenge.

Sivert said that his friends mostly kept him up to date on what was going viral and who posted what on social media. He told the outlet that it was tough to feel out of the loop sometimes but he believes not having social media gave him more time to focus on school and sports.

“On the whole, I would say totally worth it," he said. "I mean, I would do it again."

That said, when Sivert turned 18, he immediately signed up for an Instagram account.

A 2019 study from Johns Hopkins found that teens who spent more than three hours a day on social media were likely to see negative mental health impacts.

The study found that adolescents who spent the most time on social media were likely to internalize problems, which can manifest in things like social withdrawal, difficulty coping with anxiety or depression or directing feelings inward.

"We cannot conclude that social media causes mental health problems, but we do think that less time on social media may be better for teens’ health," the study's lead author, Kira Riehm, said at the time.

“We need to find a better way to balance the benefits of social media with possible negative health outcomes,” Riehm said. “Setting reasonable boundaries, improving the design of social media platforms and focusing interventions on media literacy are all ways in which we can potentially find this equilibrium.”

Related: Finsta, fake Instagram, where kids hide posts from parents

Dr. Shannon Curry, clinical psychologist and director of the Curry Psychology Group in Orange County, California, echoed those sentiments in a previous interview with TODAY.

She added that the “depersonalized” nature of online interactions can lead to surprising cruelty.

“The more time kids spend on social media, the more likely they are to feel depressed, to be bullied, to engage in self-harming behavior and to struggle with issues of self-esteem,” Curry said.