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Parents' Guide to

The Social Dilemma

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Eye-opening docu charts social media dangers, offers advice.

Movie PG-13 2020 89 minutes
The Social Dilemma Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 13+

Over-Dramatized and fear mongering.

In my opinion, there are many things wrong with this movie that makes me believe Director Jeff Orlowski already had his mind made up when beginning work on this movie. One bit that made me think this was when they talked about female suicide rates, but conviently left out mention of male suicide rates, which have been much higher than female rates since the start. (possibly because the rates weren't as steep.) The opening tries to imply social media turns you into a violent extremist. Only made to appeal to moms and boomers who want their opinion proved correct.
age 17+


If you’re an American wondering how our country became so divided so fast, WATCH THIS MOVIE. In fact every adult who uses the internet needs to see it so they understand what’s happening every time they go online. My advice is to watch it first so you can decide whether your kid should watch it. It's PG-13, however the potential implications are dramatic and different kids may process it differently.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (24 ):

Mark Zuckerberg isn't mentioned by full name until late in this documentary, but his company's outsize influence on the world of social media is felt all over the film. The featured talking heads here have mostly left top tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter after having helped build them up, and now seem to suffer from a collective guilty conscience. That only adds to how convincing they are about the existential threat social media poses, and their expertise pulls back the curtain on the methods. "We're all lab rats," one person suggests in a documentary full of similarly worrying statements that leave the impression that social media is to blame for many -- if not most -- contemporary individual and societal ills.

Director Jeff Orlowski visualizes some of the talking head commentary in animated sequences and a dramatized fictional narrative about phone-addicted teens suffering from negative online commentary and being manipulated by artificial intelligence (played by Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser) to dive down outrage-driven rabbit holes. These sequences may help illustrate the ideas for some viewers, but they aren't totally necessary. As expert voice after voice predicts more addiction, psychological afflictions, polarization, radicalization, and echo-chamber ignorance, it's impossible not to see the immediate relevance of their warnings. They leave us with a few recommendations and suggestions that may not be enough to turn the tide without public pressure for top-down regulation, but The Social Dilemma makes it clear that we ignore them at our own peril.

Movie Details

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