Social Media Convo Starters

Written by National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) / Netsmartz

Conversation Starters for preteens and teens

Social media sites and apps have become an important part of how we all use the internet. Preteens, teens, and adults like Facebook and apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.


In a 2018 Pew Research survey, teens were split on whether social media had a mostly positive or mostly negative effect on their lives. The noted positive elements included social media’s role in connecting them with friends and family, easy access to news and information, and meeting others with similar interests. The noted negative effects included bullying, lack of in-person contact, and unrealistic views of others’ lives.


For this reason, it is important that caregivers build some awareness around how these social media sites work, what the appeal is for our young people (even if we are not users), and how to keep our kids safer while using them.

  • “What social media apps are you on the most? Which apps have you downloaded?”
  • “Can you show me some of the pictures and content you have posted online? Let’s talk about why you chose to post certain things.”
  • “Do you usually get a friend request or notice that others are following you on your social media accounts?  Do you know them all? Do you know how to unfollow or block those you do not know?”
  • “Has anyone ever contacted you on any of your social media accounts that you don’t know personally?”
  • “Do you know how to turn off your notifications and turn on your privacy settings within all of your social media accounts? Are all your accounts set to ‘private?’”
  • “Have you ever seen or read something that gave you a weird or bad feeling/emotion? What was it that made you feel this way? Why did it bring out this emotion in you?”
  • “Have you ever seen something online that was bothersome, embarrassing, or inappropriate? This could be anything from online drama, racist or harmful language, bullying, or even something sexually explicit.”