For many parents they are little more than the source of our children's tantrums, feet-stomping and long periods of hibernation in stuffy rooms.
Yet a new study into the effects of computer games has revealed that fast-paced action games turn us into faster and better decision-makers.
Scientists at the University of Rochester in New York tested dozens of 18- to 25-year-olds who were not ordinarily video-gamers, splitting them into two groups.
The first group were told to play adrenaline-packed action games such as Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament, in which participants dash around online arenas shooting each other.
The second group were given The Sims 2, a more sedate, strategy-based game that mimics the pace of everyday life.
After 50 hours of playing, both groups were given a series of tests to see whether they could make quicker decisions.
Scientists discovered that those who had trained on the action games made decisions 25pc faster than their counterparts. They also answered just as many questions correctly as their strategy game-playing peers.