A debate is an activity where people present arguments and support a particular viewpoint. Debates are a common part of life. Each one of us, at some point in time, would have argued about something we feel passionately about.
Debates not only help us build vocabulary and improve public speaking, research, and critical thinking skills but also allow us to see things from new perspectives.
Teenagers are observant, and most of them like to ponder about things in general. While your teen might be a natural at debating, their schoolwork and other activities could keep them occupied, leaving them little time to think deeply. You can get them interested in a topic.
These topics need not necessarily be serious. They can be as silly and funny as you want, just enough to develop your teenager’s critical thinking skills and help them put their point forward in a calm and no-nonsense manner.
We have compiled a list of 201 debate topics for teens. They cover a variety of subjects and require different levels of research and debating skills. But before we have a look at the topics, let us discuss the different types of debates.
Types Of Debates
Debates can be broadly categorized into four types.
1. Lincoln-Douglas debate
This is a one-on-one debate and usually has specific time schedules for researching and delivering your arguments. It is named after the debates of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas during the US elections of 1858.
2. Rebuttal debate
In this form of debate, one party explains the flaws of the other party’s arguments and vice versa. This needs some practice because the participants have to be respectful at all times.
3. Oregon-Oxford debate
This type of debate begins on a predetermined statement or motion. The two sides argue either for or against the motion.
4. Team policy debate
This is one of the oldest and most popular debate formats. In this form of debate, each team can make a few speeches based on their arguments. Some speeches should be constructive, while others should be rebuttals.
How To Choose Good Debate Topics?
Any topic that can get your teenager to think and talk at length is ideal. You can select topics that they are interested in and give them some food for thought. As time goes by, you can introduce more complex or varied topics and see how your children fare.
Regardless of the topic, your teenager must be able to research well and present their arguments eloquently. Encourage them to include as many numbers, studies, and facts as they can.
201 Debate Topics For Teens
Here is a comprehensive list of debate topics. We have grouped them under different topic types so that you can pick one based on their strengths and the mood they are in.
Controversial debate topics
- Should pharmacists be allowed to prescribe medicines?
- Should citizens who do not vote pay a fine?
- Should all students have an after-school job?
- Do you think professional athletes are overpaid?
- Do you think actors should contribute to charity?
- Are beauty contests harmful?
- Do men look better with facial hair?
- Should alcohol be sold on weekends?
- Should women with facial hair remove it regularly?
- Does violence in video games translate to violence in real life?
- Do you think the minimum wage is fair? How much should it be according to you?
- Do teenagers today volunteer more than teenagers of the past?
- Is it okay to be rude online?
- Do you think animal tests should be banned?
- Do you think children should completely stop playing video games?
- Are men stronger than women?
- Should drug addicts be punished or helped?
- Should there be advertisements on children’s channels?
- Should the police be allowed to use lethal force?
- Should children stop using gadgets?
- Does technology bring people closer, or does it take them further apart?
- Is religion beneficial?
- Do beauty contests objectify women?
- Should smoking in public be banned?
- Does helicopter parenting cause problems to children?
- Are sports programs (or any kind of training programs) for children and teens intense?
- Is participating in reality shows beneficial or harmful?
- Do the lyrics of popular songs affect the thinking of children and teens?
- Is online banking safe?
- Should parents be allowed to hit their children?
- What are the effects of social media on teenagers?
- Is the use of virtual reality in Hollywood good or bad?
- Should free speech be protected on social media?
- If humans were to live on the moon, would you go there?
- Should parents be allowed to choose the gender of their unborn baby?
Funny debate topics
- Are dogs better than cats?
- Is tap water better than bottled water?
- Are children smarter than grown-ups?
- Are bad words bad?
- Which would you prefer — to be rich and have no friends or to be poor and have many friends?
- If you could be one of them, which would you be — huge or tiny?
- Which came first — the chicken or the egg?
- Which is better — summer or winter?
- What is the best pizza topping?
- Do you believe that one should never lie?
- Do you think children shouldn’t be allowed to use cellphones until they turn 18?
- Do you think smartphones make us stupid?
- Should reality shows be banned?
- If you could choose immortality, would you?
- Are fairy tales relevant in today’s world?
- Do you believe in life after death?
- Which is more necessary — morals or money?
- Are women more complicated than men?
- How does sunlight affect vampires?
- Why do teens enjoy going to the mall?
- Which is the best arcade game?
- Which are the best and worst fashion trends?
- What is the best platform for listening to music?
- Which pop star deserves the fame and which doesn’t?
- What is the best way to pass the time — watching TV or reading?
- What is the biggest influence on teenagers?
- Is it impolite to ignore a text from a friend?
- Do you think wearing glasses is cooler than it was some years ago?
- Is playing video games addictive, or can you control it according to your needs?
- Should teenagers under 18 be allowed to get a tattoo?
- Would you rather be good at studies or in sports?
- Are clowns funny or scary?
- Do aliens live among us?
- Which is better — ice cream or cake?
- Are humans the most dangerous creatures on the planet?
- Are video games bad for health?
- Why do teens idolize celebrities?
Political debate topics
- Do you think there should be democracy worldwide?
- Do you think everyone must own weapons?
- Is freedom of speech essential?
- Should schools be used to promote nationalism?
- Is patriotism a good thing?
- Do you think there should be more members on the jury?
- Should religious institutions be taxed?
- How should political campaigns be funded?
- Does having a term limit beneficial or harmful for senators?
- Are the rates at which taxes are increasing fair?
- Should a political leader be active on social media?
- Should offenders be given voting rights?
- Should Supreme Court judges be appointed for fixed terms only?
- Is the US Constitution a living document?
- Are the methods of incarceration unfair to Persons of Color (POC) than to White people?
- Should the voting age be raised/lowered?
- Should there be a border between the US and Mexico?
- Should the death penalty be removed?
- Should the law punish microaggressions?
- Should the US give aid to other countries?
- Should drones be used in modern warfare?
- Do juries deliver fair verdicts? Is there any other way to deliver fair verdicts?
- Should people be fined according to their incomes?
- Should politics be discussed in schools?
- Should the US accept all war refugees?
- Should nuclear weapons be banned worldwide?
- Do celebrities and politicians have more leverage to get out of crimes?
- Should the government subsidize renewable sources of energy?
- Should birth control be free?
- Should the minimum wage rate for all countries be the same?
- Should the government provide free Internet to every citizen?
- Should the government send a mission to Mars?
Social debate topics
- Do you think Barbies are a good toy for children?
- Is peer pressure beneficial for development?
- Is artificial intelligence dangerous or beneficial?
- Is daily leisure better than a yearly vacation?
- Is cloning ethical?
- Is social media beneficial or dangerous?
- Should smoking, drinking, or using drugs be the decision of an individual?
- Should we be allowed to create designer babies?
- Should we have regulations on social media content?
- Should we have regulations on OTT content?
- Should abortions be made legal?
- Should all parents attend parenting classes?
- Should people be fined for not recycling?
- Should vaccination be legally enforced?
- Should mixed martial arts be stopped?
- Should celebrities always be positive role models?
- Does the gender wage gap exist?
- What is the primary cause of teen violence?
- Do you believe the Internet should offer privacy?
- Is transracial adoption ethical?
- What is the leading cause of teen unemployment?
- What are your views on pornography and censorship?
- Do teens prefer socializing on social media than meeting face-to-face?
- Do you think reducing pollution in our homes is enough to reduce overall pollution?
- Should teens be allowed to access emergency contraception?
- Should you pay money to access the work of your favorite artist?
- Should marijuana be legalized for testing as a medicine?
- Are models setting a wrong standard for society?
- Is Google quickly turning into an online policing system?
- Should Instagram influencers be regulated?
- Is peer pressure different than bullying?
- Should LGBTQ couples be allowed to adopt children?
- Should there be an equal number of male and female employees at a workplace?
- Is the Me Too movement being misused?
- Is there a third gender?
- Are homosexual relationships against nature?
- Are you the way you are because you were born that way or because of the way you were raised?
- Should organ sales be legalized?
- Should euthanasia be legalized?
- Should vaping be banned?
- Is abortion ethical?
Educational debate topics
- Is sex education necessary for middle school students?
- Should phones be banned in schools?
- Do you think homework should be banned?
- Do you think single-sex classrooms are beneficial?
- Are students too dependent on technology?
- Should girls be allowed to take up STEM topics?
- Should boys be allowed to play with toys such as dolls and cooking sets?
- Do you think the traditional teaching methods must be replaced with AI?
- Should the curriculum be designed according to the needs of individual students?
- Do you think life skills must be included in the curriculum instead of some subjects?
- Do you think that school hours should be revised?
- Should sports be a subject in itself at school?
- Do you think schools should block social media sites on their computers?
- Do schools encourage students to read books?
- Is the quality of education improving at the rate the fees are increasing?
- Are student loans beneficial or exploitative?
- Should corporal punishment be reintroduced in schools?
- Should public college education be free?
- Should schools give detentions?
- Should high school athletes be drug tested?
- Is math important for everyone, and should everyone learn it beyond the basics?
- Are uniforms necessary at schools?
- Should students be paid to go to school?
- Should students be allowed to use cellphones in class?
- Are teachers paid well?
- Should teachers wear uniforms?
- Should all teachers get tenure?
- Should every student take a performing arts course?
- Do you think cheerleading is a sport?
- Should schools provide free meals?
- Is year-round education a good idea?
- Should all children take up art lessons?
- Should prayers be included in public schools?
- Has bullying in schools increased? What do you think is causing the increase?
- Do children from poor homes be provided free education?
- Is homeschooling better than public or private schooling?
Environmental debate topics
- Do animals deserve the same rights as humans? Are they getting them?
- Is climate change the biggest threat to humankind?
- Would it be possible to save the planet if everyone took up vegetarianism?
- Is organic farming truly organic?
- Is organic farming the future of agriculture?
- Is tourism beneficial for the environment?
- Is it ethical to wear fur?
- Should zoos be closed?
- Should plastic be banned?
- Can nuclear energy be the solution to all our energy problems?
- Should alternative medicines be banned?
- Is animal testing ethical?
- Can technology be used to save nature?
- How are humans destroying the habitat of animals?
- Should genetic engineering be encouraged?
- Can alternative fuels replace fossil fuels?
- Can climate change be reversed?
- Are genetically modified foods the solution to world hunger?
- Should there be more national parks in the US?
- Is live animal export ethical?
These topics are just a glimpse into what you can give your teenagers to discuss. In reality, you can select almost any topic and ask them to debate about it. Assign them a topic, tell them the rules of the debate, give them ample time to research, and watch them prepare for an awesome debate. Debates are a great way to expand the worldview of teenagers.