What Does Hooking Up Mean to Teenagers?

If you ask a teenager what hooking up means, you are probably going to get a wide range of answers. What hooking up does not mean--despite what it may sound like to many parents--is meeting at the mall and going to the movies. Hooking up means sex.

No Strings Attached

To teenagers, hooking up means casual sex with no strings attached. Hooking up could be anything from kissing to oral sex to sexual intercourse. Kids don't date anymore. Instead, they go out in groups that lead to sexual encounters. Hookups are the system teens use to find relationships, according to MSNBC. Many teens feel that if they do not hookup, they will be left out.


Debate is lively on the effects of hookups, especially where girls are concerned. On the one hand, hookups give choices to girls. Girls can behave sexually more as men traditionally have, without people judging them a whore, according to MSNBC. On the other hand, women could be secretly hoping for more from their hookups, and hookups do not typically lend themselves to creating a real relationship.


Hooking up is not new. It has been around for at least 50 years, as of 2010, according to WebMD. In past decades, some teens would get together at a party and engage in petting or sexual activity. The difference between now and then is that hooking up is now the norm and is not confined to occasional party behavior.

Starting Young

Kids, as young as 12, are starting to hookup by engaging in heavy petting and oral sex. Busy and less-attentive parents, combined with casual sex themes on TV and in movies, contribute to the increase in younger kids hooking up. Social networking and text messaging make it easier for kids to be bolder than they would be in person. Kids tend to set up encounters electronically and then follow through with them.

What You Can Do

If the thought of your teenager or pre-teen hooking up concerns you, you should have a frank discussion with your child. It's better to have this talk before your child becomes sexually active, but if you missed that chance, you can still keep the lines of communication open. Tell your teen what your expectations are regarding sex. Know the people your teen hangs out with and the people your teen instant messages and emails with.