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310 Prompts for Argumentative Writing

Questions on everything from mental health and sports to video games and dating. Which ones inspire you to take a stand?

Breanna Campbell and Nathaniel Esubonteng, in “Vote 16” sweatshirts, are interviewed by a television reporter at Newark City Hall.
Our list of writing prompts includes: Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
Credit…Brian Fraser for The New York Times

This article was originally published in the New York Times Learning Blog (Click here)

Natalie Proulx

By Natalie Proulx

March 14, 2024

Does social media harm young people’s mental health? Do video games deserve the bad rap they often get? Should parents track their children? Who is the greatest athlete of all time?

Every school day, we publish new questions for students based on the news of the day, including prompts, like these, that inspire persuasive writing.

Below, we’ve rounded up over 300 of those argumentative prompts, organized by topic, all in one place. They cover everything from parenting and schools to music and social media. Each one, drawn from our Student Opinion column, links to a free New York Times article as well as additional subquestions that can help you think more deeply about it.

You can use these prompts however you like, whether to inspire an entry for our new Open Letter Contest, to hone your persuasive writing skills or simply to share your opinions on the issues of today. So scroll through the list below and see which ones inspire you to take a stand.

If you enjoy these questions, know that you can find all of our argumentative writing prompts, as they publish, here. Students 13 and up from anywhere in the world are invited to comment.

Argumentative Prompt Topics

A close-up shot shows five flip phones in the hands of teenagers who belong to the Luddite Club.
Credit…Scott Rossi for The New York Times

Social Media

1. Does Social Media Harm Young People’s Mental Health?
2. How Much Should Speech Be Moderated on Social Media?
3. Should the United States Ban TikTok?
4. How Young Is Too Young to Use Social Media?
5. Should Kids Be Social Media Influencers?
6. What Should Be Done to Protect Children Online?
7. Should There Be Separate Social Media Apps for Children?
8. Are You a Fan of ‘School Accounts’ on Social Media?
9. Will Social Media Help or Hurt Your College and Career Goals?
10. Is It Ever OK to Use Strangers as Content for Social Media?

Phones and Devices

11. Should More Teenagers Ditch Their Smartphones?
12. Should the Adults in Your Life Be Worried by How Much You Use Your Phone?
13. Should Phones Ever Be a Part of Family or Holiday Gatherings?
14. What Are Your Texting Dos and Don’ts?
15. Does Grammar Still Matter in the Age of Twitter?
16. Is Your Phone Love Hurting Your Relationships?
17. Should Texting While Driving Be Treated Like Drunken Driving?
18. How Young Is Too Young for an Apple Watch?

The Internet

19. Do Memes Make the Internet a Better Place?
20. How Excited Are You About the Metaverse?
21. Should Websites Force Users to Prove How Old They Are?
22. What Is the Best Way to Stop Abusive Language Online?
23. How Do You Feel About Cancel Culture?
24. Does Online Public Shaming Prevent Us From Being Able to Grow and Change?
25. Do You Think Online Conspiracy Theories Can Be Dangerous?
26. Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

A row of school buses parked in a parking lot at dawn.
Credit…Byron Smith for The New York Times

School Discipline and Attendance

27. Should Schools Ban Cellphones?
28. How Should Schools Hold Students Accountable for Hurting Others?
29. What Are Your Thoughts on Uniforms and Strict Dress Codes?
30. Should Schools Test Their Students for Nicotine and Drug Use?
31. How Can Schools Engage Students Who Are at Risk of Dropping Out?
32. Should Students Be Allowed to Miss School for Mental Health Reasons?
33. Should Your School Day Start Later?
34. Should There Still Be Snow Days?
35. Do Kids Need Recess?
36. Should Students Be Punished for Not Having Lunch Money?

School Quality and Effectiveness

37. How Do You Think American Education Could Be Improved?
38. Do Schools Need to Do More to Hold Students Accountable?
39. Are Straight A’s Always a Good Thing?
40. Should Students Have the Same Teachers Year After Year?
41. Do Teachers Assign Too Much Homework?
42. Should We Get Rid of Homework?
43. Should We Eliminate Gifted and Talented Programs?
44. Is It Time to Get Rid of Timed Tests?
45. What Role Should Textbooks Play in Education?
46. How Should Senior Year in High School Be Spent?
47. Does Your School Need More Money?
48. Do School Employees Deserve More Respect — and Pay?
49. Should Public Preschool Be a Right for All Children?

Teaching and Learning

50. Do You Think We Need to Change the Way Math Is Taught?
51. Should Financial Literacy Be a Required Course in School?
52. Should Schools Teach Students Kitchen and Household Skills?
53. Do We Need Better Music Education?
54. What Are the Most Important Things Students Should Learn in School?
55. What Is the Purpose of Teaching U.S. History?
56. Do Schools Need to Do More to Support Visual Thinkers?
57. Is School a Place for Self-Expression?
58. Should Media Literacy Be a Required Course in School?
59. Can Empathy Be Taught? Should Schools Try to Help Us Feel One Another’s Pain?
60. Should Schools Teach You How to Be Happy?
61. Should All Schools Teach Cursive?
62. Should Kids Still Learn to Tell Time?
63. How Important Is Knowing a Foreign Language

Technology in School

64. How Should Schools Respond to ChatGPT?
65. Does Learning to Be a Good Writer Still Matter in the Age of A.I.?
66. Is Online Learning Effective?
67. Should Students Be Monitored When Taking Online Tests?
68. Should Schools Be Able to Discipline Students for What They Say on Social Media?
69. Can Social Media Be a Tool for Learning and Growth in Schools?
70. Should Facial Recognition Technology Be Used in Schools?
71. Is Live-Streaming Classrooms a Good Idea?
72. Should Teachers and Professors Ban Student Use of Laptops in Class?
73. Are the Web Filters at Your School Too Restrictive?

Education Politics

74. Do You Feel Your School and Teachers Welcome Both Conservative and Liberal Points of View?
75. Should Students Learn About Climate Change in School?
76. Should Teachers Provide Trigger Warnings for ‘Traumatic Content’?
77. Should Teachers Be Allowed to Wear Political Symbols?
78. What Do You Think About Efforts to Ban Books From School Libraries?
79. What Is Your Reaction to the Growing Fight Over What Young People Can Read?
80. What Do You Think About the Controversy Surrounding the New A.P. Course on African American Studies?
81. Should Schools or Employers Be Allowed to Tell People How They Should Wear Their Hair?
82. Does Prayer Have Any Place in Public Schools?
83. Should Schools Be Allowed to Censor Student Newspapers?

An illustration of a graduate in cap and gown. The gown stretches behind them with words on it, including "Anywhere College," "Whatever U," "Stanford*," "Harvard maybe," and "University of?"
Credit…Robert Neubecker

College Admissions

84. Should Colleges Consider Standardized Tests in Admissions?
85. Should Students Let ChatGPT Help Them Write Their College Essays?
86. What Is Your Reaction to the End of Race-Based Affirmative Action in College Admissions?
87. Are Early-Decision Programs Unfair? Should Colleges Do Away With Them?
88. Is the College Admissions Process Fair?
89. How Much Do You Think It Matters Where You Go to College?
90. Should Everyone Go to College?
91. Should College Be Free?
92. Is Student Debt Worth It?
93. Should High Schools Post Their Annual College Lists?

Campus Life

94. What Should Free Speech Look Like on Campus?
95. Should Greek Life on College Campuses Come to an End?
96. Should Universities Work to Curtail Student Drinking?
97. How Should the Problem of Sexual Assault on Campuses Be Addressed?
98. Are Lavish Amenities on College Campuses Useful or Frivolous?
99. Should ‘Despised Dissenters’ Be Allowed to Speak on College Campuses?
100. Should Emotional Support Animals Be Allowed on College Campuses?

Jobs and Careers

101. Is High School a Good Time to Train for a Career?
102. Is There Such a Thing as a ‘Useless’ College Major?
103. Should All High School Students Have Part-Time Jobs?
104. Should National Service Be Required for All Young Americans?
105. Is It OK to Use Family Connections to Get a Job?

Money and Business

106. Do You Think the American Dream Is Real?
107. Should All Young People Learn How to Invest in the Stock Market?
108. Should We All Go Cashless?
109. When Should You Tip?
110. Should We End the Practice of Tipping?
111. Are You a Crypto Optimist or Skeptic?
112. Do Celebrities and Influencers Make You Want to Buy What They’re Selling?
113. Is $1 Billion Too Much Money for Any One Person to Have?
114. Are C.E.O.s Paid Too Much?
115. Is It Immoral to Increase the Price of Goods During a Crisis?
116. What Should Stores Do With Unsold Goods?
117. Is There a ‘Right Way’ to Be a Tourist?
118. Who Should We Honor on Our Money?

An illustration of two people lying on grass looking up at clouds.
Credit…Cari Vander Yacht

Mental Health

119. Is Teen Mental Health in a State of Crisis?
120. ‘Love-Bombing.’ ‘Gaslighting.’ ‘Victim.’ Is ‘Trauma Talk’ Overused?
121. Does Achieving Success Always Include Being Happy?
122. Is Struggle Essential to Happiness?
123. Should Schools Teach Mindfulness?
124. How Can We Bring an End to the ‘Epidemic of Loneliness’?
125. Does Every Country Need a ‘Loneliness Minister’?
126. What Ideas Do You Have to Bring Your Community Closer Together?
127. Are Emotional-Support Animals a Scam?
128. Is It OK to Laugh During Dark Times?

Dating and Relationships

129. Who Should Pay for Dates?
130. Do Marriage Proposals Still Have a Place in Today’s Society?
131. Should Your Significant Other Be Your Best Friend?
132. How Do You Think Technology Affects Dating?

Physical Health

133. Should Governments Do More to Discourage People From Smoking and Vaping?
134. How Should Adults Talk to Kids About Drugs?
135. Can Laziness Be a Good Thing?
136. Should There Be Requirements for Teens Who Want to Ride E-Bikes?
137. What Advice Should Parents and Counselors Give Teenagers About Sexting?
138. Should All Children Be Vaccinated?
139. Do We Worry Too Much About Germs?

White text on a black background. The words listed include: Cancel culture, They/Them, Black, Microaggression, Brown, A.A.P.I., White privilege, Systemic racism, Latinx, Asian American.


140. Is It Becoming More Acceptable for Men and Boys to Cry?
141. Is It Harder for Men and Boys to Make and Keep Friends?
142. Should Award Shows Eliminate Gendered Categories?
143. Should There Be More Gender Options on Identification Documents?
144. Justice Ginsburg Fought for Gender Equality. How Close Are We to Achieving That Goal?
145. What Should #MeToo Mean for Teenage Boys?
146. What Is Hard About Being a Boy?
147. Should There Be More Boy Dolls?
148. Is Single-Sex Education Still Useful?
149. Are Beauty Pageants Still Relevant?
150. Should Period Products Be Free?
151. What Are Your Thoughts on Last Names?
152. What Rules Should Apply to Transgender Athletes When They Compete?
153. What Is Your Reaction to the Recent Wave of Legislation That Seeks to Regulate the Lives of Transgender Youths?
154. What Do You Wish Lawmakers Knew About How Anti-L.G.B.T.Q. Legislation Affects Teenagers?

Identity, Race and Ethnicity

155. How Should Schools Respond to Racist Jokes?
156. How Should Parents Teach Their Children About Race and Racism?
157. What Is Your Reaction to Efforts to Limit Teaching on Race in Schools?
158. How Should Racial Slurs in Literature Be Handled in the Classroom?
159. Should Confederate Statues Be Removed or Remain in Place?
160. Should We Rename Schools Named for Historical Figures With Ties to Racism, Sexism or Slavery?
161. How Should We Remember the Problematic Actions of the Nation’s Founders?
162. Does the United States Owe Reparations to the Descendants of Enslaved People?
163. What Can History Teach Us About Resilience?
164. Should All Americans Receive Anti-Bias Education?
165. Is Fear of ‘The Other’ Poisoning Public Life?
166. What Stereotypical Characters Make You Cringe?
167. When Talking About Identity, How Much Do Words Matter?
168. How Useful Is It to Be Multilingual?

A crowd in a movie theater.
Credit…Michelle Groskopf for The New York Times

TV and Movies

169. Is True Crime As a Form of Entertainment Ethical?
170. Should Old TV Shows Be Brought Back?
171. Does Reality TV Deserve Its Bad Rap?
172. How Closely Should Actors’ Identities Reflect the Roles They Play?
173. In the Age of Digital Streaming, Are Movie Theaters Still Relevant?
174. Do We Need More Female Superheroes?
175. Is Hollywood Becoming More Diverse?
176. When Does Lying in Comedy Cross a Line?
177. How Do You Feel About ‘Nepotism Babies’?

Music and Video Games

178. Will A.I. Replace Pop Stars?
179. If Two Songs Sound Alike, Is It Stealing?
180. Should Musicians Be Allowed to Copy or Borrow From Other Artists?
181. How Do You Feel About Censored Music?
182. What Are the Greatest Songs of All Time?
183. Do Video Games Deserve the Bad Rap They Often Get?
184. Should There Be Limits on How Much Time Young People Spend Playing Video Games?
185. Should More Parents Play Video Games With Their Kids?


186. Are A.I.-Generated Pictures Art?
187. What Work of Art Should Your Friends Fall in Love With?
188. If Artwork Offends People, Should It Be Removed?
189. Should Museums Return Looted Artifacts to Their Countries of Origin?
190. Should Art Come With Trigger Warnings?
191. Is the Digital Era Improving or Ruining the Experience of Art?
192. Are Museums Still Important in the Digital Age?
193. Can You Separate Art From the Artist?
194. Are There Subjects That Should Be Off-Limits to Artists, or to Certain Artists in Particular?
195. Should Graffiti Be Protected?

Books and Literature

196. Is Listening to a Book Just as Good as Reading It?
197. Should Classic Children’s Books Be Updated for Today’s Young Readers?
198. Should White Writers Translate a Black Author’s Work?
199. Is There Any Benefit to Reading Books You Hate?
200. Should Libraries Get Rid of Late Fees?

Teenagers playing soccer on a field with spectators in the background.
Credit…Rick Loomis for The New York Times

201. What’s the Best — and Worst — Part of Being a Sports Fan?
202. Who Is the GOAT?
203. Do Women’s Sports Deserve More Attention?
204. What Should Be Done About the Gender Pay Gap in Sports?
205. Should Girls and Boys Sports Teams Compete in the Same League?
206. Should More Sports Be Coed?
207. College Athletes Can Now Be Paid. But Not All of Them Are Seeing Money. Is That Fair?
208. Should High School-Age Basketball Players Be Able to Get Paid?
209. Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?
210. Are Youth Sports Too Competitive?
211. Is It Bad Sportsmanship to Run Up the Score in Youth Sports?
212. Is It Ethical to Be a Football Fan?
213. Does the N.F.L. Have a Race Problem?
214. What New Rules Would Improve Your Favorite Sport?
215. What Sports Deserve More Hype?
216. How Should We Punish Sports Cheaters?
217. Should Technology in Sports Be Limited?
218. Does Better Sports Equipment Unfairly Improve Athletic Ability?
219. Is It Offensive for Sports Teams and Their Fans to Use Native American Names, Imagery and Gestures?
220. Is It Selfish to Pursue Risky Sports Like Extreme Mountain Climbing?
221. Should Cheerleading Be an Olympic Sport?

Credit…By Tim Lahan


222. Should Parents Ever Be Held Responsible for the Harmful Actions of Their Children?
223. Where Is the Line Between Helping a Child Become More Resilient and Pushing Them Too Hard?
224. Should Parents Give Children More Responsibility at Younger Ages?
225. Should Parents Tell Children the Truth About Santa?
226. Should Parents Weigh in on Their Kids’ Dating Lives?
227. Should Parents Track Their Children?
228. How Should Parents Support a Student Who Has Fallen Behind in School?
229. Do Parents Ever Cross a Line by Helping Too Much With Schoolwork?
230. What’s the Best Way to Discipline Children?
231. What Are Your Thoughts on ‘Snowplow Parents’?
232. Should Stay-at-Home Parents Be Paid?
233. Should Parents Bribe Their Children?

Childhood and Growing Up

234. Is It Harder to Grow Up in the 21st Century Than It Was in the Past?
235. Is Childhood Today Over-Supervised?
236. When Do You Become an Adult?
237. Who Should Decide Whether a Teenager Can Get a Tattoo or Piercing?
238. Do We Give Children Too Many Trophies?
239. What Can Older Generations Learn From Gen Z?
240. What Is the Worst Toy Ever?

A person’s feet, shod in the slip-on style and checkerboard pattern of Vans sneakers, can be seen beneath a voting booth.
Credit…Madeleine Hordinski for The New York Times

Legislation and Policy

241. Should the Death Penalty Be Abolished?
242. Should Marijuana Be Legal?
243. Should the United States Decriminalize the Possession of Drugs?
244. What Is Your Reaction to the State of Abortion Rights?
245. Should the Government Cancel Student Debt?
246. Should Public Transit Be Free?
247. Should There Be More Public Restrooms?
248. Should the U.S. Be Doing More to Prevent Child Poverty?
249. Should the Government Provide a Guaranteed Income for Families With Children?
250. Should Law Enforcement Be Able to Use DNA Data From Genealogy Websites for Criminal Investigations?

Gun Violence

251. Are You Concerned About Violence in America?
252. How Should Americans Deal With the Problem of Gun Violence?
253. What Should Lawmakers Do About Guns and Gun Violence?
254. Should the U.S. Ban Military-Style Semiautomatic Weapons?
255. Should Teachers Be Armed With Guns?

Voting and Elections

256. How Much Faith Do You Have in the U.S. Political System?
257. Is the Electoral College a Problem? Does It Need to Be Fixed?
258. Does Everyone Have a Responsibility to Vote?
259. Should We All Be Able to Vote by Mail?
260. Should There Be a Minimum Voting Age?
261. Should the Voting Age Be Lowered to 16?
262. Should Ex-Felons Have the Right to Vote?
263. Are Presidential Debates Helpful to Voters? Or Should They Be Scrapped?

Freedoms and Rights

264. How Important Is Freedom of the Press?
265. Why Does the Right to Protest Matter?
266. Does the U.S. Constitution Need an Equal Rights Amendment?
267. Do You Care Who Sits on the Supreme Court? Should We Care?
268. Should You Have a Right to Be Rude?
269. Should Prisons Offer Incarcerated People Education Opportunities?

Civic Participation

270. Are You Optimistic About the State of the World?
271. If You Could Take On One Problem Facing Our World, What Would It Be?
272. If You Were Mayor, What Problems Facing Your Community Would You Tackle?
273. Do You Think Teenagers Can Make a Difference in the World?
274. Do You Think It Is Important for Teenagers to Participate in Political Activism?
275. Is Your Generation Doing Its Part to Strengthen Our Democracy?
276. How Is Your Generation Changing Politics?
277. Why Is It Important for People With Different Political Beliefs to Talk to Each Other?
278. Are We Being Bad Citizens If We Don’t Keep Up With the News?
279. Why Do Bystanders Sometimes Fail to Help When They See Someone in Danger?
280. When Is It OK to Be a Snitch?
281. Should Reporters Ever Help the People They Are Covering?
282. Should Celebrities Weigh In on Politics?
283. Should Athletes Speak Out On Social and Political Issues?
284. Should Corporations Take Political Stands?
285. What Do You Think the Role of the First Lady — or First Spouse — Should Be Today?

A grid of four photos of insects. Clockwise from top left: a white and green marble butterfly; a coral pink sand dunes tiger beetle; an orange and black monarch butterfly; and a yellow and black bumblebee.
Credit… Rick and Nora Bowers/Alamy; Leon Werdinger/Alamy; Rich Hatfield/Xerces Society; Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images


286. Is Animal Testing Ever Justified?
287. What Is Our Responsibility to Lab Animals?
288. What Are Your Thoughts About Hunting Animals?
289. Should We Be Concerned With Where We Get Our Pets?
290. What Do You Think of Pet Weddings?
291. Is It Wrong to Focus on Animal Welfare When Humans Are Suffering?
292. Should We Bring Back Animals From Extinction?
293. Are Zoos Immoral?
294. Do Bugs Deserve More Respect?

Environment and Science

295. What Role Should Young People Play in the Fight Against Climate Change?
296. Should We Be More Optimistic About Efforts to Combat Climate Change?
297. How Far Is Too Far in the Fight Against Climate Change?
298. Should Plastic Bags Be Banned Everywhere?
299. Is It Ethical to Create Genetically Edited Humans?
300. Should We Still Be Sending Astronauts to Space?
301. Do You Think Pluto Should Be a Planet?
302. Should We Treat Robots Like People?

Time and Seasons

303. What Is the Best Month of the Year? What Is the Worst?
304. Would Life Be Better Without Time Zones?
305. Do You Think It Is Time to Get Rid of Daylight Saving Time?
306. When Do Holiday Decorations Go From Festive to Excessive?
307. Should We Rethink Thanksgiving?
308. When Does a Halloween Costume Cross the Line?
309. Should School Be a Place to Celebrate Halloween?
310. Should the Week Be Four Days Instead of Five?

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