We are the UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill.

PhoneBrain national schools and youth clubs competition winners announced

11 February 2014

In support of Safer Internet Day 2014, the PhoneBrain competition is helping young people take the lead in the safe use of phone-paid services. The annual competition teaches young people how to use their phones to pay for services with confidence, whether it is apps or TV voting.

The winners of the 2014 competition, from Watford Grammar School for Girls and Jamea Masjid Preston, were announced today at the Safer Internet Day 2014 event in London.

The Watford Grammar School for Girls team took the overall and schools prizes with an idea for an educational game called PhoneVille. In the PhoneVille game children would learn about using their phones to buy digital content safely. The game contains a number of virtual buildings that users can visit to find out more about using phone-paid services safely.

The Jamea Masjid Preston team won the Youth Clubs group with a plan to run a local campaign teaching other young people about phone-paid services. The judges were impressed by the detail of the plan that included events and videos.

Each team wins £500 and, as the overall winners, the Watford Grammar School for Girls team will also receive tickets from O2 to any show at the O2 Arena.

Patrick Guthrie, Director of Strategy and Communications at PhonepayPlus, said:

“Congratulations to the two winning teams, it was a very strong year and there were fantastic entries from around the UK. We run this competition to prepare young people for the digital economy and help parents talk to their children about using phones safely. This year has been a great success.”

PhoneBrain is an initiative by PhonepayPlus, the UK phone-paid services regulator. PhonepayPlus’ advice to children and parents when using a phone is:

  • Know your numbers – some numbers, like those starting with 118, 09 or 0871, can cost more
  • Look for the price – it might be in the small print
  • Don't ignore your phone bill or phone credit – check how much your phone costs
  • Look up numbers you don’t recognise – use the Number Checker on PhonepayPlus’ website
  • Find out how you can leave a service – with text services text back STOP
  • Don’t type your phone number into websites – unless you’re sure what its going to be used for
  • Watch what you click on – when browsing on your phone some clicks can cost you money
  • Check with the bill payer – ask the bill payer before doing anything, especially before downloading apps, buying something online or calling or texting numbers
  • Don't rush when downloading apps – some apps can cost you, find out what the permissions are for the app
  • Do seek advice or help if you need to – visit the PhoneBrain website or contact PhonepayPlus

The PhoneBrain competition, which is run in schools and youth clubs nationwide, helps young people understand the costs involved in mobile and smartphone use. This year’s competition involved thousands of young people from across the country being challenged to create a way of informing other young people about using their phones to buy services safely without running up high bills.

Entrants to the competition completed the PhoneBrain quiz online before working on their ideas. The PhoneBrain quiz is designed to help children understand how they could be charged for buying digital products like apps or games or for calling premium rate lines like X-factor voting. The PhoneBrain quiz for children can be taken for free online here.

The PhoneBrain website has an area for parents, which includes essential information, advice on managing the costs of connected devices such as smartphones and tablets, and stories from other parents. PhoneBrain has also joined with The Parent Zone to produce a video explaining the issues to parents and giving easy tips to help youngsters avoid bill shock. It can be seen here.

Safer Internet Day – 11 February is the eleventh annual Safer Internet Day with the theme ‘Let’s create a better internet together’. Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, and recognised globally in over a hundred countries, the day provides a platform to celebrate digital creativity and to encourage the safe, responsible use of technology. Find out more at www.saferinternet.org.uk.