In brief: Most people these days would struggle to stay off social media for six days, and that's especially true with teenagers. But one 12-year managed to resist the temptations of TikTok, Instagram, and all the other platforms for six whole years, for which he was rewarded $1,800 from his mother.
CNN reports that in 2016, Lorna Goldstrand Klefsaas challenged her 12-year-old son Sivert to stay off social media until he reached 18, with the promise of a cash prize on his birthday if he managed the feat.
Lorna says the idea came from a challenge she heard on the radio called "16 for 16" that involved a mother giving her 12-year-old daughter $1,600 on her sixteenth birthday if she stayed off social media until that time. Lorna offered her son the same challenge but changed it to six years and added an extra $200---18 for 18, essentially.
Luckily for Sivert, he didn't use social media very much when he took on the bet---the only app he had was Snapchat, which he'd deleted a day after trying it. "I wouldn't say there was ever a time where I thought I was about to break," he said. "As it went on, it was more of a pride thing."
Sivert said his friends helped keep him up to date with all the latest trends on social media. He also appreciated being able to avoid the "unnecessary drama" that often goes with Facebook, Instagram, etc. There were other benefits, too, including having more time to focus on grades and sports.
Asked whether he will jump into the world of social media now the bet is over, Sivert says he has already joined Instagram, though the years away have left him less assured than most teens. "There's definitely a learning curve," Sivert said. "I see my friends fly through their social media apps and I can't do that quite yet."
The challenge was partly prompted by Sivert's sisters, who Lorna said got "too engrossed" in their apps while growing up. "It was affecting their mood, their friendships and was kind of a depressant," she said. It was reported last year that Facebook understood the negative impact Instagram had on teenage girls' mental health.
Back in 2019, this writer struggled to last a mere three weeks without social media. Its absence did get slightly easier as time went on, but I admit to being relieved upon returning to its addictive embrace.