Weekend Reads: 2017 New Year's resolution apps, time tracking, and digital economics

by Colin Lalley
Weekend Reads: 2017 New Year's resolution apps, time tracking, and digital economics

Did you get a new tablet or phone this holiday season? Our Weekend reads will show you what apps you need for 2017, how to make sure you don’t waste (too much) time with them, and why you should be wary of those in-app purchases — especially around your kids.

The Mission 2017 resolution apps

The Mission

Want a better 2017?

We’ve all got at least one New Year’s resolution. Maybe you have a handful. Are you going to keep all of them? Of course not. But now’s a time for optimism! After all, we haven’t gotten to, "I’ll go to the gym...tomorrow..." yet. And with this list of apps for every goal, your chances of actually doing something are better than ever. If you remember those old "There’s an app for that" commercials, this is a lot like that. Want to learn a new language? Download Duolingo. Want to keep up with all of your online reading (like great PolicyGenius articles!)? Download Pocket. Want to insert gifs directly from your keyboard into your texts? Rhetorical question, of course you do, so download the Gboard keyboard. Whether you just got that new phone or have had your trusted companion for a while, spend this weekend loading it up with these apps to make 2017 the year you do everything. Or anything at all, if that’s where you’re starting. Baby steps.

Art of Manliness time tracking

The Art of Manliness

Get More Done in 2017 by Tracking Your Time

Okay, so you have all of those new apps. But how do you make sure you’re not wasting time with them? Heck, how do you make sure you’re not wasting time in the real world? By tracking it! Now, there are obviously apps for time-tracking, too, but as the Art of Manliness notes, you might be better off — and less distracted — going old school with a journal or note book. Tracking your time to see just how long tasks actually take and where you’re letting Facebook sap minutes (or even hours) takes a lot of meticulous record-keeping. Which, if you think about it, makes it a perfect New Year’s resolution! If you want to be more productive — or put those apps we talked about to good use and actually get results — tracking your time is the perfect foundation for other good habits in 2017.

Quartz in-app purchases


Game in-app purchases are warping kids’ understanding of basic economic ideas

And now the dark side of apps: in-app purchases. If you’ve ever played a mobile game, you’re familiar with these. 50,000 digital coins for $1.99 real dollars seems like a good deal. But sometimes — oftentimes — it’s an illusory purchase designed to make you sink more time into a game without actually helping your progress in it at all. This can be especially confusing for kids, who already don’t have a good grasp of just what money gets them. And if you’re a parent who’s trying to teach your kid good money habits, "paying very little for what seems like a lot but is also very little, and in fact worthless," can really throw a wrench into your lesson plans. So before you load up your toddler’s tech with cash, think about how it fits into your overall money teachings. And then probably don’t do it.