Techno time thieves shouldn't be for all ages

We are a nation obsessed with our mobile phones.

In little more than a quarter of a century, the humble phone has gone from being the preserve of brace-wearing stockbrokers to an essential for people from all walks of life.

The most recent stats show 50 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds own a smartphone and there is no sign of that figure decreasing.

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This isn’t just a thing people in rich, developed countries do – it is truly a worldwide phenomenon – one which many cannot get their heads around.

One of the common criticisms of refugees is they dare to own a smartphone, like it is some sort of proof things cannot be that bad at home if they own the latest Samsung.

These bone-headed critics miss the point: these dinky devices are no longer a luxury item but something everybody should have, should they so want.

As long as they are old 

There is a hardcore who say children should not own a phone until they are old enough to buy a lottery ticket.

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The latest voice in this argument belongs to Steve Hilton, the man credited with turning David Cameron from an unknown, posh Tory Boy into a hoodie-hugging statesman.

Hilton flew in last week from his new life in California and went on a whistlestop tour of broadcast studios to tell us where we are all going wrong.

But he was absolutely right about kids not having phones.

Looking back on my teenage years, I am impressed by the fact I made it to adulthood, such was my propensity for disaster and destruction and the last thing the 14-year-old me would have needed was an extra distraction, and that is precisely what phones are.

In the wrong hands (I include myself in this), a smartphone is a time thief, not to mention the biggest conversation killer known to mankind.

Look around any restaurant, pub or cafe and you will see blank- faced souls staring into the dimly lit abyss while ignoring their companion.

It is a depressing sight.