When I was a child growing up in the fifties there were a couple of things that I was very glad not to have around.

One was the credit card.

As a student in London I would have been tempted to push one across the counter to try and keep up with the latest fashions.

I might have the card but I didn’t have any money to pay off the debt so I suppose mum and dad would have had to foot the bill. 

I was surprised to learn that some credit cards were around in America in those days but it took a while before they caught on here and the masses began to use them.

I’d like to believe that I would have been responsible with money, but easy access to credit might prove too tempting for a youngster eager to shop in an exotic place like BIBA (celebrating its 60th anniversary about now).

Thing number two was smoking.

Of course, cigarettes had been around for years by then; I seem to remember that it was often thought that non-smokers were a bit dull and rather boring.

Not necessarily true, of course. My mum and dad both smoked, and so did most people around me.

Considering how many of my peers were smokers it was surprising that I didn’t get round to puffing until I was about 18, finally wanting to fit in with the crowd. How foolish, but those colourful Sobranie ciggies looked so “cool” didn’t they?

Fortunately, I came to my senses in my late twenties and gave up the dreaded weed. It would have been far better though never to have taken it up, but it was the old business of wanting to fit in. 

Fitting in brings us to something that wasn’t even dreamed of in the fifties but now it’s everywhere and is the concern of four out of five parents.

It’s the smartphone, dubbed lately as the “electronic drug”.

Until I reached my forties I avoided the wretched thing but I surrendered and now in many ways I’m hooked on it, using it quite a lot.

But I don’t go anywhere near so-called social media though I’m aware of how it could become addictive. 

When I was in pantomime a few years ago one of the tiny young dancers was thrilled to be given a pink smartphone for Christmas; she was only about seven at the time.

Since then more and more of us are coming round to the realisation that there aspects of smartphone use that are not only addictive but also downright dangerous. 

Esther Ghey, the mother of the murdered teenager Brianna Ghey, is campaigning for an age limit on smartphone use, and stricter controls on access to social media.

A poll has revealed that most parents believe the government should ban smartphones for children under 16.

More than four in five (83pc) parents said they felt that smartphones were “harmful” to children and young people.

Ahead of the general election the charity Parentkind is calling on all political parties to include in their manifestos a ban on smartphones for children. 

Closer to home, an 11-year-old relative of mine has just been given a smartphone.

Her parents held off as long as they could but when all her friends had one how could they resist her pleadings?

Not buying one was no answer as she could have access through other children’s phones.

They’ve done their best by preventing her from taking her phone to school and putting a block on it after 7pm. 

We have to hope that the publicity and pressure surrounding the potential threats of these things will coax their genie back into the bottle.

We owe it to the next generation, and ourselves.