BEIJING, July 14 (RIA Novosti) - China's Health Ministry has banned using electric-shock therapy to treat teenagers who are addicted to the Internet, national media reported on Tuesday.
The controversial treatment had been introduced by a clinic in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong. Doctors claimed some 3,000 patients were forcibly treated under the program.
The "therapy to clear the mind" offered by the center's director, Yang Yongxin, was given to youngsters as punishment for minor offenses to create an association between bad behavior and penalties.
The treatment costs parents, who have to sign an agreement consenting to the electric shock treatment and giving the center guardianship over their children, 6,000 yuan ($878) per month.
The ministry said in a statement released by China Radio International that the "effectiveness of the electroshock therapy when treating addiction to the Internet has not been proven and its usage in clinics is unacceptable."
An official for the clinic, which has been widely criticized for using the treatment, said earlier that the course had already been stopped, according to the China Youth Daily.
Internet addiction was officially classified as a mental illness in China in November 2008. The country has about 300 million Internet users, and some 40 million of them play online games.