Teens gear up for mobile phone classroom challenge

4 March 2010

PhoneBrain – the schools programme set up by industry regulator PhonepayPlus that helps students create a mobile ringtone or business plan in the classroom – is back for its second year, with backing from the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

New research from PhonepayPlus shows that 37% of 11- 17 year olds have used music or video content on their phone in the past six months. PhoneBrain, which combines the skills students are required to learn with young people’s passions for music, social networking and mobile content, explains how to use phone-paid services – such as voting on TV shows, entering competitions, and downloading mobile games and ringtones – safely to avoid unexpected charges.

Iain Wright MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for 14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships, said:
“The DCSF supports PhoneBrain which sees teachers, regulators and industry working together to make sure young people can use new technology such as smartphones safely and with confidence. PhoneBrain delivers a clear message to young people in a fun way: be sure and be confident about what you buy on your phone.”

This year, PhonepayPlus has teamed up with Habbo (a virtual world and social networking site popular with teens) and Fugative (16-year-old independent music artist, producer and publisher) to help teens use the skills they learn in the classroom to develop an animated Habbo ‘avatar’ mobile ringtone, create their own phone-paid service business plan, or both!

Using Adobe software, the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) lesson challenges young people to create a mobile ringtone using a Habbo ‘avatar’ (a virtual character used to represent a real person) and exclusive music content, provided by Fugative and his label, Hard2Beat Records. Fugative is also inviting students to create a ringtone for his mobile, with the chance to win VIP tickets to one of his concerts.

Enterprise enthusiasts are encouraged to create a business plan for an innovative, new phone-paid service, taking into consideration the rules that apply to providers of these kinds of services. These budding entrepreneurs will be able to submit their proposals to be judged by a panel of experts and finalists will win a half-day ‘shadowing’ Fugative to get a feel for an average day in the music business.

PhonepayPlus’ Chief Executive, Paul Whiteing, commented:
"Young people enjoy buying the latest content for their mobile, but a small minority are still falling foul of confusing pricing or unclear subscription charges and could lose their credit or rack up large bills. PhoneBrain aims to give students the confidence to enjoy these services, knowing they’ll get what they wanted at the price they expected to pay.”

The winners of the PhoneBrain ICT and Enterprise challenges will be announced in late May/early June. For more information on the PhoneBrain project and how you can get involved, visit www.phonebrain.org.uk, or call Claire Chubb/Katie Buckett on 020 7592 1200.