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Is Social Media Living Up to its Promised of Connection? Americans are Torn

Practicing Good Habits Online Can Help—A Pressing Need Since More than Half of Americans Are Worried About Social Media’s Impact

Expert Offers Ways to Use Social Media to Enrich Your Life, Rather Than Distract From What Matters Most

NEW YORK, N.Y., February 13, 2013—Despite the much-heralded rise of social networking as a tool for building connections, most Americans feel it hasn’t helped cultivate social ties. In fact, half (51%) say that social networking has had a negative impact on how people interact with one another in society. Only 36% of survey respondents think social networking websites have improved their relationships with family and friends.

These findings are part of a series of announcements from the Keep Good Going Report, sponsored by New York Life, a survey of more than 2,000 Americans exploring attitudes and expectations about how they can cultivate goodness in their lives.

“Most people can’t avoid social media today, even if they want to. But this Report reveals that many people have mixed feelings about social media’s influence on their lives,” said Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of Raising Happiness, sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, and independent consultant to New York Life. “The key is knowing how to use media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to foster happiness in your life and in the lives of others. This ensures that new technologies are positive forces in your life, rather than negative ones.”

Even the most frequent social networkers are divided on whether these online communities are a positive force in society. More than half of respondents (53%) use social networking at least once a week. Among this group, about one in two (48%) feel that social networking makes no positive impact on how individuals interact with each other in society. A surprisingly large number (44%) also feel that social networking has not helped them strengthen relationships with family and friends.

With social media growing quickly and becoming increasingly well-established, tips and advice on how to use these tools to foster goodness are more important than ever. Dr. Christine Carter offers the following tips to use social media to perpetuate the good in your life:

  1. Use social media to foster real-life social connections. To deepen connections to others, use Facebook to find a long-lost friend or use Twitter to send a funny article to your spouse.
  2. Think about who you’d like to become in the future, and use social media as a tool to help you get there. Use social networking to enhance certain practices that we know increase happiness. For example, one way to express gratitude may be to post a photo of something that you feel grateful for on Instagram to share it with others in your life.
  3. Think about how you want to influence the world for the better. Social media is a powerful way to influence the world for good. Posting quotations, articles, and photographs that inspire us and others is one good way to get started.

For more tips and information from Dr. Carter, please visit newyorklife.com/keepgoodgoing.

Survey Methodology

The Keep Good Going Report survey was sponsored by New York Life and conducted online by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc., in August 2012, among 2,069 individuals age 21 or older.

Committed to helping people perpetuate the good in their lives, New York Life Insurance Company, a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States* and one of the largest life insurers in the world. New York Life has the highest financial strength ratings currently awarded to any life insurer by all four of the major credit rating agencies.** Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. Please visit New York Life’s Web site at www.newyorklife.com for more information.

*Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500 ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, May 21, 2012. See http://www.money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2012/faq/ for methodology. **Source: Third-party ratings reports as of 2/1/13.

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