These days, a lot of TV shows portray women and girls behaving badly – like “The Real Housewives,” “Jersey Shore,” and “Bad Girls Club.” But are the popular shows making young girls in the TV audience mean? A lot of experts say, “Yes.”

Caroline Knorr is the “parenting editor” for Common Sense Media.  And she says that the tween and teen years are crucial for learning how to form friendships. But young audience members are learning from TV that if you’re mean and nasty, you’ll be popular – and maybe even rich, because that’s what they’re seeing. Our expert says young girls may not exactly mimic the violent acts they see on TV – like screaming, slapping and backstabbing, but they’re exhibiting more so-called “relational aggression.” Basically, gossiping, name-calling, and general nastiness.

So, what’s a parent to do? Experts say it’s important to train your kids to think critically. They suggest watching the shows with your kids, and asking questions like: “Do you think this is realistic?” “Do you think her feelings were hurt when the other girls gossiped?” And, “How do you think they could have handled that better?” Because that teaches empathy – which allows people to feel what it’s like in somebody else’s shoes.