Contributed by James Daniels; edited by David Oxford

Pick up any parenting guide and one of the first things it probably says is “limit screen time.” Sure, we all know it isn’t healthy for kids to spend 16 hours a day playing video games, but not all video games are utterly mindless. In fact, contrary to what you might think, kids can learn a lot of useful skills from playing video games — and here are seven of them.

Hand-Eye Coordination

The main thing video games are good at is improving a child’s hand-eye coordination. Having good hand-eye coordination is very useful when a teenager is learning to drive. The countless hours spent concentrating on smartphones and tablets will also come in handy when your teenager needs to practice for their driving theory test, as they will be familiar with touch screen devices.

Coding

Coding is the way forward. There will come a time when we all need to know how to code. Luckily there are plenty of games out there that teach kids how to program. Scratch is a free online program for kids, but there are plenty more, including Light Bot and Code Combat.

Engineering Skills

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Minecraft has proven to be a revelation. Not only is it fun to play, but it can also teach kids an awful lot about basic scientific principles. Kids can even learn about electrical engineering, thanks to “redstone.” This important mineral powers mechanical devices within the game, so if kids can figure out how it works, they can build all kinds of useful gadgets.

Learn to Play an Instrument

Never underestimate the power of music. It provides the backdrop for important moments in our life and when a child learns to play a musical instrument, they have acquired a useful skill. Video games such as Guitar Hero introduce the basics of learning to play an instrument. Rocksmith is another fine example, so don’t always assume the awful noise generated by such games is pointless.

Dancing

Okay, so dancing is not a life skill, but it can be a useful way of keeping fit and staying in shape. Since way too many kids spend hours locked up in their bedrooms, tapping away on a keyboard instead of kicking a football around in the fresh air, isn’t it better that they are at least burning calories in Dance Central instead? Dance games also teach coordination and rhythm, which is good for a child’s self-esteem.

Keep-Fit

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The Nintendo Wii is not so popular these days, but Wii Fit U is still one of the best ways to get in shape while playing video games, and it is also good fun. Kinect Sports is another good option for Xbox gamers.

Learn a Language

Learning a new language takes time and effort. Kids are encouraged to learn a second language at school, but there are games available to help them pick up a new language. Check out cool games such as Influent and My Language Coach. Both make language learning a lot of fun.

Don’t ban video games from the house. They are more useful than you think!

James Daniels is a freelance writer, business enthusiast, a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek. He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics. [email protected]

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