Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore teenagers' and young adults' use of social networking sites (SNS), in light of certain personal, social and educational outcomes and attitudes. Design/methodology/approach – Data were gathered on the basis of surveys, and were analyzed through a series of multivariate models. Findings – It was found that participants' reasons and motivations for online presence varied as a function of gender and age. Different degrees of Facebook usage were linked with different school-related attitudes. More specifically, more extensive usage was associated with more negative school and peer attitudes; more so for females and for college students. Furthermore, greater reliance on online interactions for social and emotional support was found disadvantageous for college students, while neutral or in some cases beneficial for high school students. Research limitations/implications – Gender and educational level appear to be important factors explaining some of the variation in school-related attitudes, and thus should be explored separately. Practical implications – The differential impact of online presence on school attitudes for college and high school students highlights the need for teachers and student advisors to be sensitive to such transitional groups. Social implications – The authors found that more popular students, those often viewed as “opinion leaders”, tended to show more negative school outcomes than less popular students in general; a relevant point for organizations. Originality/value – Facebook usage and school-related attitudes were observed simultaneously in high school and college populations studying in Budapest, Hungary.