Video Games are Digital Heroin for the Mind

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

B.F. Skinner studied operant conditioning while a graduate student at Harvard University in the 1930s. Skinner is recognized for his Skinner box experiments. The Skinner box is a puzzle, or problem box, where the subject animal learns by trial and error that pressing a lever yields a reward.

When the reward is delivered, which can be food, water, or reward the subject enjoys, the lever-pressing behavior is reinforced. Skinner argued that, with the selection of appropriate rewards, his system of operant conditioning could be used to teach anything. Similar to the behavioral conditioning experiments performed by B.F. Skinner with rats and pigeons, gamers are being trained to push buttons by playing video games for digital rewards, the digital heroin for the mind. Video games are known to stimulate dopamine release in the brain, the feel-good neurotransmitter. Like using a drug to escape real life problems and stress, the addicted video gamer plays video games to escape.

The following video shares thoughts and feelings from video game addicts recovering at a rehab facility.

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