How many devices do you have in your home? A “device” is defined as a thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, especially a piece of mechanical or electronic equipment. Its definition has surely been expanded to living in 2019. When I grew up over 80 years ago, we had devices, but they were limited to hammers, saws, and other tools for building and eating.

There was even one large, beautiful wooden case with a “radio” in it. At night, it was the device we used to listen to some weekly broadcasts of “The Shadow” and “One Man’s Family.” My sister Colleen and I were excited to listen to “Let’s Pretend” faithfully each Saturday morning, and we all listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s “Music and the Spoken Word” every Sunday. When we got our first TV (10-inch screen), the entertainment array increased greatly. It only had four stations, but this device changed everyone’s home from then on.

My dad shaved with a “safety razor,” and my Grandpa Monson used a straight edge single blade sharpened on a razor strap – which was sometimes used by some parents to give a good “spanking” when a child did something bad. I know my grandpa had used it on my dad when he was growing up, but my dad never used it on me. He left it to my mom to administer any physical punishment if I’d done something bad. I remember only once when she was sweeping the floor and I mouthed off about something, as a growing teen might do, and she knocked me once on my head. I was startled and then started to laugh. She laughed, too. And I was better after that.

Today, devices are a major part of each day. I’m using one right now as I compose this column on my home computer. At my dad’s insistence when I was in high school, I enrolled in a “typing” class, one of the few boys in the room. The keyboard is basically still the same, but it has greatly expanded to include many, many more items and possibilities.

It’s not unusual these days to have a speaker or someone “in charge” ask everyone to please turn off their devices. It’s also common, however, to use devices in classrooms, including church classrooms, as lessons progress. In LDS chapels, “devices” are to be turned off in sacrament meetings but are used by most adults and older children for Sunday School classes and probably in Primary, but I haven’t been a teacher there for many, many years.

Jane has and uses our cell phone. We count on it a lot when we travel or are just out of the house. While home, we use our landline more often. At least I do. I do not have my own personal cell phone. My arthritic fingers just don’t work on the little keys of a cell phone very well. Our son Jeff, who works and lives in Washington City by St. George, just called me while I was writing this. We flew down there a couple of weeks ago for their oldest daughter’s graduation – on Delta from SLC to St. George. I barely had time for a nap!

While we were away (and every other night), there is a small device by one of our front windows which is timed to turn on a lamp when it gets dark and turn off that lamp when it’s morning. We also have a more detailed security system installed. Recently, our travels are more confined to short trips. Sleeping in your own bed and having all medications, food supplements, computers, exercise equipment … plus getting older … makes staying home pretty darn nice.

I take a tablet with me to church meetings and when we travel away from home. I can find scriptures and lesson materials and use email on these occasions. By email, I am now in touch with people around the globe – from New Zealand through the Pacific Islands, to Europe, and all parts of the USA.

We do not have an “Alexa” or whatever it’s called in our home. With our TV provider, we can “tell” it what we’re looking for on the TV, and that works very well. There are so many “worthless” programs today. We watch our favorites, and when their “season” is over, then Netflix is a good source. It gives a run-down of what the program is all about, and that helps a lot when we’re looking for something we both enjoy.

We are grateful we can still read good books. Jane belongs to a book club and visits the Logan Public Library often. My children know I love to read. I’m currently reading “Insights from a Prophet’s Life: Russell M. Nelson” by Sheri Dew. Whether you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not, it’s a very worthwhile book about Dr. Nelson’s life, especially concerning his major role in discovery of the first artificial heart/lung device. I strongly recommend it. On the lighter side, I’ve read all of Clair Poulson’s books. “Watch Your Back,” a suspense novel, was a fun read.

Last for today is a warning. These devices must be monitored by adults to keep children and especially teenagers from finding harmful and degrading sites. I’m told that parents can regularly monitor what their kids are looking at. I hope so. With all the good, helpful, interesting, fun things on devices, comes the dark side. When I held a church position where I interviewed teens regularly, it was not uncommon to find some with addictions to pornographic materials. Sadly, along with the good and worthwhile is the bad and ugly. Mind addictions are just as hard, perhaps harder, for a person to overcome than drug or alcohol addictions. Both can be destructive.

It’s a beautiful day. I think it’s time to take a break from this device and go for a walk.

Jay Monson is a former educator, and also served on the Utah State Board of Education, Cache County Council, and Logan City Council. He may be reached at monson.jay@gmail.com