Many don't spend quality time with extended family: Survey

People camping at East Coast Park.
People camping at East Coast Park. PHOTO: ST FILE

While people may keep in frequent contact with their extended family, few spend quality time with them, a new survey has found.

Nearly 60 per cent of the 1,171 people polled said they have a virtual chat group with their extended family members, including grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins.

But four in 10 people also said that they spend less than two hours of quality time with their extended families in an average month. Another three in 10 said they spend between two and six hours with them.

These were the results of a poll commissioned by non-profit group Families for Life.

Mr Ching Wei Hong, who chairs Families for Life, said people may think that they are spending enough time with their extended families because of how virtually connected they are.

"But I think really what counts is getting together with your family members, having a meal together... and spending some quality time. I grew up with uncles and cousins, and having this sort of support elements in the family structure really helps to strengthen it," he said.

But some, like accountant Anna Chua, 49, feel that spending six hours together in a month is more than enough. She and her sisters take leave once in a while to go for massages or watch movies.

She said: "With the Internet, we chat so often. It's very different from last time when you have to call each other to talk. I would say you are really in contact every day."

At a Families for Life picnic last Friday, Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said: "One of the things we are finding is that family structures are changing. You have smaller family units and, as a result... the entire broader family system is also very important."

To encourage people to spend more time with their extended families, Families for Life is holding a ballot till next Tuesday for 20,000 tickets to Universal Studios Singapore. Go to to ballot for the tickets.

The free tickets will be given in sets of six, eight and 10.

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Many don't spend quality time with extended family: Survey'. Subscribe