This study explored the effects that social networking sites use has on the academic performance of middle school-aged students in a small district in California. It identified risks and benefits associated with social networking site use and how those affect student achievement. The study examined parental usage guidance and scrutinized smartphone possession during school hours. It drew data from information made public in a survey that corresponds to parents, teachers and staff, and students who voluntarily identified as being connected to the middle schools in the study district. Risks associated with social networking site use include cyberbullying, increased student isolation, and distractive multitasking, which all had negative impacts on academic achievement. This is somewhat offset by respondents reporting an increased sense of belonging. Finally, the study revealed that smartphone possession at school did not affect grades, so long as the students were not distracted by, or active on, social networking sites during class time. The study recommends that parents and schools work to educate students about the risks and benefits of social networking sites, especially the addictive, compulsive nature; moreover, that they find the right balance of activity for middle school students.