Family

5 Critical Ways Moms Influence Their Kids (Without Even Realizing It)

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mom and daughter on beach

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 influence your kid's lives without even realizing it:

1. How and whether you foster positive body image

Kids get lots of iffy messages about appearance from the 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.

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2. If and when you insist on screen-free time

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.

3. The type of high-quality media you allow them to watch

So often moms are the ones in charge of curating kids' media lives.

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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.

RELATED: My Son Died, But I Have No Regrets About His Free-Range Childhood

4. Whether you, yourself, text and drive

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!)

5. How and whether you choose to raise media-literate kids.

Moms are responsible for the majority of shopping in most households. This means it's the 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.

RELATED: In Defense Of The Benignly Neglectful Parent

Sierra Filucci is a contributor to YourTango who writes on kids & their relationship to technology and media.

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This article was originally published at Common Sense Media. Reprinted with permission from the author.