Teen son wins mom's $1,800 bet he couldn't stay off social media for 6 years
There is a lot of research that needs to be done on the effect that social media has on adolescents but the early studies suggest some reason for concern. The University of Columbia says that the more time teens spend on social media, the more likely they will experience mental health symptoms like anxiety, isolation and hopelessness.
Teens who can’t help but compare themselves to others are bound to have a difficult time with their self-image after spending hours a day scrolling through a world that’s predicated on likes, followers and comments.
Social media also makes it easy for teens to minimize their face-to-face contact with others. This can exacerbate feelings of alienation and hopelessness in those who suffer from social anxiety and depression.
One of the most disturbing studies out of BYU has found a correlation between time spent on social media and suicidality risk among teenage girls.
Lorna Klefsaas’ daughter had a tough time with Snapchat in her teens. "She got so obsessed with keeping up her Snapchat streaks that it was really affecting her mood. It was affecting her friendships,” the Minnesota mom told WUSA9.
The daughter is in grad school now and doing great with her social life, but Klefsaas hadn’t forgotten about her daughter's troubles when her younger son, Sivert, turned 12. She wanted to do whatever she could to keep him off social media, so she made him a bet. If he could stay off until he was 18, she would pay him $1,800. She called it the “18 for 18 challenge.”
"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 WUSA9.
The student-athlete took on the challenge just like it was football or basketball. "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,” Klefsaas said.
"I knew for sure he was going to make it,” she added.
Klefsaas came up with the idea after hearing about another mother who issued a “16 for 16'' challenge to her daughter. She beefed up the deal by two years to hopefully carry her son into adulthood.
And it did.
Recently, when Sivert turned 18, he collected $1,800 from his family for being able to abstain from social media for six years. He celebrated the occasion by opening up an Instagram account, but he has a lot of catching up to do.
"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 laughed.
Sivert is happy he took on the challenge and won because it allowed him to spend more time focusing on his academics and sports. "On the whole, I would say totally worth it. I mean, I would do it again,” Sivert says. He’s currently sifting through offers from colleges to play football next year.
Looking to help your kids develop healthy social media habits? Anne Marie Albano, Ph.D., director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, said that it's best to set time aside every day where the phones are always off.
“Mealtimes are a great time to put the phones away. Another healthy habit is to set a time each night when you’ll put all the screens away to give yourself enough time to wind down and prepare the body for sleep,” she told Columbia University.
She also says that you can improve a child’s social media habits by implementing the “grandma's rule” we all abided by as kids. You’ve got to eat your veggies before you have dessert. First, kids have to exercise and do their homework before they earn their social media time.
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