Just days after being dispatched to an internet addiction treatment center, an 18-year-old teenager in China has died, sparking criticism of the controversial, Boot Camp-type institutions. Center staff was held by police following the teen's death.

Addicted teenager sent to treatment center

According to the BBC the incident happened earlier in August in China’s Anhui province. The boy’s mother, whose surname in Liu, told reporters her son was suffering a serious addiction to the internet and that she had her husband had been unable to assist him.

They chose to send the teenager to an internet addiction treatment center in Fuyang city on August 3, which claimed to use a mixture of physical training and psychological counseling to help teens with their online addictions. However two days after being sent to the center they were told their son had been taken to a local hospital where he had later died.

Multiple internal and external injuries on teenager in treatment center

As reported by the New York Post, while the exact cause of death is currently unknown, doctors told the parents their son’s body had sustained several internal injuries along with at least 20 external injuries.

When the parents viewed their son’s body in the hospital’s mortuary, they found him to be totally covered in scars. Liu said when they sent their son to the internet addiction center he was fine, asking how he could die within just two days.

The center’s director along with four members of staff is reportedly in police custody and the center has been closed down while investigations continue.

Harsh ‘boot camp’ treatment of internet addicts

Much controversy exists over the proliferation of the internet addiction treatment centers in China, where teens are treated for their addictions to online gaming and internet use.

Many use a “boot camp” form of discipline and have been criticized for using overly harsh practices. The BBC reports there have been cases of electroshock therapy and beating of the patients. They quote a story from last year where a teen killed her mother after she had been abused at one of the centers.

Authorities in China have reportedly begun a crackdown on the treatment centers and have drafted laws which, should they pass, would ban abusive treatment of the patients, including electroshock therapy. Tech companies are also making moves to limit over use of online gaming by teenagers, with one company, Tencent, already putting restrictions in place for young internet users while playing one of the company’s most popular games.