Steven Chia: Make the Most of Time and Media for Our Kids

Steven Chia with wife, Tania, daughter Lucy, 6, and son, Joshua, 2
Steven Chia with wife, Tania, daughter Lucy, 6, and son, Joshua, 2

Steven Chia, Panel Speaker at the upcoming Dads for Life Conference on 12 May 2012, ponders the impact of media on children’s lives today. He talks about quality time, and his conviction that it is important to spend as much time as possible with his kids.

The affable Channel News Asia producer and presenter for AM Live! also reveals his children’s candid responses when they see him on the television screen.

What do you appreciate most about yourself in your role as a dad?

I appreciate the fact that I’m quite chilled about stuff in general. I’m generally quite calm in just about every circumstance. The kids can feel that and I think that rubs off on them too.

What’s important to you for your family life?

The time we spend together. I believe in the quantity of time versus the quality of time. For the kids, any time spent is quality time.

What do you think children need most from their fathers?

Many dads or parents say quality time is important. But in my opinion, the quality of time can never compete with the quantity of time. Children do not differentiate time that way. They just know that they’d like to have you around more… especially at a younger age.

When they are teens they most likely won’t want to hang out with you. So I say seize the opportunity now while they still want to be with you. The more time you have with them, the better. Quantity in this case will always beat quality.

Do you remember the first time Lucy and Joshua saw you on television (TV)?

Actually, no. They have grown up seeing me “on air”. But Lucy (sometimes) used to try “talking” to me while I was on TV and there were moments when I was home and the TV would be on and I’d (appear)… The first few times, they could not figure out why.

I explained the whole process and now it makes sense to Lucy. Joshua is still too young to fully comprehend.

The funny part for Lucy now, is that I wear makeup… everyone on TV does. I just have to remind her that when she tells people her Daddy wears makeup, she has to add that it’s because he’s on TV!

How do you think the media affects our children today?

The media has and will continue to have an impact on all our lives. In fact, it will have a stronger impact on our lives because it is now so much a part of our daily lives. The kids today will all be media and tech savvy, and to them it will just be the norm.

As a father, I embrace and shun the media at times. It can teach so much that is both good and bad, and it can do that very quickly. I believe our challenge as parents today is to equip our children with the right principles and values, so that they can decipher what is good and bad on their own as they grow up. We can’t be around to protect them all the time.

Professionally, I can’t deny that I enjoy the media. I find it’s amazing the way we can reach out to millions of people today with a few simple clicks of a button. None of us today need to live in isolation simply because the media can feed us with all we need to know from anywhere in the world.

Again the challenge is how to negotiate the path through this new media environment. Being able to find good, accurate and unbiased information is going to get harder as we become more and more bombarded with many sources of information. Our children today will have to learn that well.

How do you, as a dad, use media for your children’s growth, and limit the negative effects?

Kids learn a lot from what they see, hear and do. I think tools like the TV, Internet and even Apps on our mobile devices (provide) great ways for the kids to learn while playing. The problem is often trying to get them off these devices.

The key here is to monitor what they are watching and reading up on… and the most valuable bit that parents can add is to be with the kids when they are watching TV or online. Knowing what your kids are up to is half the challenge.

The other half is explaining to them what it is they are watching or why things are a certain way in our world today.

What Apps on your smartphone are of the most help to you as a dad?

The most important tool on my phone is the calendar and my contacts. That’s all that I really use. The other apps on my phone tend to be games for the kids to play.

What is your impression of the Dads for Life movement?

Dads today are more involved in their families and want to be there for their kids. The movement has helped “legitimise” that calling. When it is endorsed on a national level, it makes it easier for employers and others to lend support to it.

Is there any quote on fatherhood that you would like to share?

I came across this quote sometime back…and I think it’s true. They do teach you that patience is truly a virtue…something most of us find very hard to achieve!

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” -Franklin P. Jones

About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.

First published on 08-05-2012