My granddaughter recently revealed to me that 4g as in 4g phones, means fourth generation.

Until then I'd thought 4g was the annual cost of owning one. I also learned that my trusty phone is not even 1g and is "embryonic". Remind me to have a word with that biology teacher.

As it turned out I wasn't far wrong about cost when another family member confessed to shelling out £36 a month to rent one of these electronic fashion accessories. She desperately tried to justify a sum considerably greater than my first mortgage. It transpires these new phones allow you to buy things that are too big/too small/wrong colour while you travel to work on the bus. Television programmes and movies can apparently be "streamed" to the new phones. That seems bizarre when most are best viewed on screens that necessitate removal of entire house walls.

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When will owners of these devices realise they have fallen for a massive con? Most communication technologies are invented, designed and made by clever foreigners who realise gullible Scots are entranced by objects that glint in the sun. We are being paid back big time for the 18th century explorers who persuaded natives to surrender half the Pacific in return for cotton sarks and mirrors. The first native owners of mirrors probably wandered around oblivious of their surroundings, transfixed by the latest handheld technology.

My non-scientific study suggests that most owners of the latest technology, who are over 15, haven't a scooby how to use them. A woman seated next to me on a train started to text before we left Aberdeen. Her phone beeped every time she touched a key. By Montrose I could stand it no longer and suggested she turn off the sound. "Oh, can you do that?" she replied.

Of course I am not the best judge of new technologies. Until recently I thought tablet sat alongside the Aberdeen rowie in the pantheon of Doric delicacies. I don't decry all communication technologies, but they can be a mixed blessing. Our school invested heavily in electronic registration that simply helped teachers mark the wrong weans absent more quickly. Mobile phones allowed our school bullies to go about their business without the inconvenience of getting out of bed.

The irresistible spread of 4g technology demands a new app – advanced phone plague. It has a ring to it.