By Sierra Filucci, Editor, Common Sense Media
Media has a huge influence on kids -- and as kids get older, the online world has an even tighter grip on them. You can see it in the way they imitate their favorite TV characters, pretend to be YouTube stars, or beg for T-shirts, backpacks, or comforters emblazoned with logos. But parents still have a huge influence. And moms play a major role in the development and nurturing of kids in a media-filled world. Here are five ways moms can have a positive impact on kids' (media and tech) lives:
Foster positive body image
Kids get lots of iffy messages about appearance from media. Whether your kid is watching sassy tween TV or scrolling through perfect Instagram photos, they're inundated with bikini pics and muscleman heroes. Not only can moms discuss these media images with kids, but they can choose to ban fat talk and body shaming entirely from their homes. Studies show that moms who criticize their own bodies can have a major impact on how kids feel about their own.
Insist on device-free dinner
Sure, more dads are in the kitchen than ever before, but moms remain the primary person in charge of getting dinner on the table. And that means they can set the tone for the meal -- including insisting that all devices are put away so that families can concentrate on each other. Studies show that sharing meals as a family can help everything from behavior to health.
Choose high-quality media
So often mom are the ones in charge of curating kids' media lives. And we can do a lot to steer kids -- especially little ones -- toward top-notch content, from selecting TV shows that foster empathy and other character-building skills for preschoolers to loading up the tablet with educational apps to keep kids busy -- and learning -- during road trips and more.
Stop texting and driving
While both parents drive kids around, it's often moms who spend the most time in the car with kids. And kids are watching when we pick up the phone for a quick text while cruising down the highway. Nix this habit immediately to set a good example for your future drivers. (Plus, it's super dangerous!)
Raise media-literate kids
Moms are responsible for the majority of shopping in most households. This means it's mom's job to negotiate with kids about which logos, phrases, and characters can appear on kids' T-shirts, backpacks, and more. While there's no shame in buying kids the occasional branded goodie, it's a good idea to help kids understand a little bit about how marketing works. Understanding how media companies make money by selling T-shirts can be one step in teaching kids media literacy.
Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.