Desperate Times: Getting Paid to Stay off Facebook
February 13, 2013

Desperate Times: Getting Paid to Stay off Facebook

How many actions do you commit to in a single day that give your social life over to a social app? For Rachel Baier, not many. Rachel and her father Paul have made headlines in light of a recent deal that they’ve made with each other.

This isn’t a typical hand shake situation that will mean that the leaves will get raked or that the lawn will be mowed. No, this was an official contracted deal, complete with fancy fonts and the luxury of printed paper. Signing lines and expressed guidelines were among the things that Paul sighted in his contract to 14 year old Rachel (You can view the article here)

The agreement is that if Rachel can put off Facebook from the fourth of February to the 26th of June, she’ll be $150 dollars richer. Added to the $50 that she’s already getting if she can hold out to mid-April, Rachel will find herself with $200 this summer if she can resist the call of another friend request.

This isn’t the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, but it does sound a bit ridiculous.

However, we must consider that Rachel was actually the one who requested the agreement. She’s an honor student, and is very low on cash with the lack of a job. I imagine that if she can find a job between now and June, then the entire deal will be off. But I consider that gesture very formidable in light of the fact that Facebook can be very addictive for young teenagers these days.

Twenty years ago teenagers found social ambiguity at the arcade and movie theaters. It wasn’t as terrible as most parents today would think of it since teenagers at least managed to go outside to see the light of day. Now the majority of their time is spent on smartphones and in front of computer screens, discussing dramatic encounters and recent parties that they attended.

I don’t think it’s a sign of a lack of true social involvement in teens, but there is a good debate to be had over the dangers of how prolific teenagers are with Facebook and Twitter.

Many parents would raise an eyebrow at the parenting methods of Paul, who describes Rachel as a straight A student. I suppose his method is better than simply handing over free money for Rachel to splurge on. The contract describes Rachel’s needs for the money as ‘Stuff’.

Doesn’t sound very noble, does it?

And what exactly might a 14 year old need with that much money? The cost of living today is scarce for many American families, and for children that means that the need to spend needlessly has been combated. Could Rachel simply indulge in physical activities to warrant entertainment? A walk in the neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps?

I’m not the father, and I’m certainly not the daughter, but I think this deal is a bit shallow. I don’t know the first thing about parenting, but when I was 14 I spent almost all of my time either playing video games or going to the movies with friends. I mowed lawns for neighbors for a modest and well earned $20, and often times that $20 went straight to a new video game.

The entertainment isn’t important. What is important is that I physically worked out a plan to make my own money. We can’t compare my situation with Rachel’s, but we can take note that with a lack of babysitting jobs Rachel is a bit against the ropes.

Clearly Paul is proud of his daughter’s academic achievements and celebrates them in his own way, but academics aren’t enough since it should be expected of the child to do their best in school to pave a bright future for themself.

This deal is about abstinence from an addictive and potentially destructive form of social communication. Is Paul in the right?

It’s not our place to judge, but I can imagine that Rachel will be feeling the sting of desire for another Facebook status very soon. Let me know what you think of Paul’s parenting in the comments below.

Image Credit: Paul Baier

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