'I wouldn't say there was ever a time where I thought I was about to break,' the teen said. 'As it went on, it was more of a pride thing.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 24, 2022.
Sivert Klefsaas was 12 years old when his mom, Lorna Goldstrand Klefsaas made him a deal: Stay off of social media for the next six years until he turned 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 told KARE 11 of the dare, which his mom called the "18 for 18 challenge." It wasn't hard for the teen to give up social media at that point as he wasn't using it much anyway. The only app he had tried prior to the bet was Snapchat and he'd deleted it a day after trying it out.
"I thought it was awesome," Sivert told CNN on Tuesday, "I thought, 'Ah what's 6 more years?'" On February 19, 2022, the 18-year-old claimed his prize. The teen said it wasn't too difficult for him to live without social media, as he didn't think about it much during the six years. "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." Having a competitive nature, Sivert treated the challenge like it was one of his football or basketball games.
He also had his friends keeping him up to date on the latest news or social media trends. "I got to avoid all the unnecessary drama that was on there," Sivert pointed out. He also believes not having social media gave him more time to focus on his grades and sports. "He did really dig in. He was like 'I'm not breaking this.' I'm proud of him because there were a few times where it was harder," Lorna said. "I knew for sure he was going to make it."
Lorna considers the $1800 she gave her son last week the best money she's ever spent, as she knows firsthand how teens can struggle with social media, having seen it with Sivert's three older sisters who all used social media growing up. Lorna revealed there were times she felt her daughters "got too engrossed" in their apps and feeds. "It was affecting their mood, their friendships and was kind of a depressant," she said. One of her daughters "got so obsessed with keeping up her Snapchat streaks that" Lorna had to take away her phone when she was 16.
"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," she explained. The daughter is now doing well in grad school and has a healthy relationship with social media, Lorna revealed. "We are certainly not against social media, but it's the healthy using of it," she explained. "It's about not letting yourself get weighed down by it, or addicted to it, or affected by things that people post." Lorna believes her son now has a "different perspective" on social media than he would have at age 12.
If someone said they'd pay you $1,800 to stay off social media for six years, would you do it? Could you? Sivert Klefsaas did just that.https://t.co/5aoDaPCMJ7— Jeff Hastings (@ntashamughal) February 23, 2022
"For some reason, kids and adults feel so comfortable behind a screen," Lorna said, referencing the negative comments that are a dime a dozen on social media. "I'm so happy (Sivert) didn't have to read any of that." Sivert agrees. "You just hear about all the stuff that goes on and just with my friends and with school, and like, 'oh somebody said this about you' and 'oh somebody did that.' And I was really spared from all that," the teen said. "On the whole, I would say totally worth it. I mean, I would do it again."
Lorna revealed that she came up with the "18 for 18 challenge" after hearing a story on the radio about another mom who had started a "16 for 16 challenge" for her daughter. When she decided to try it out herself, she upped the ante to two extra years and $200 more. Since she posted about Sivert's successful completion of the challenge on Facebook, at least a dozen moms have reached out with interest in trying it out themselves, she said. Meanwhile, Sivert has already taken his first step into social media: getting Instagram. "It's hilarious. I feel like I'm like 80. I can't seem to figure out social media. It's pretty embarrassing. I'll be with my friends, and they are like, 'what are you doing?'" Sivert said laughing. "There's definitely a learning curve. I see my friends fly through their social media apps and I can't do that quite yet."