If you find you’re losing too many evenings to the rabbit hole that is the internet, these engaging (and free!) activities sub in delightfully for doomscrolling. Crosswords, quizzes, travel, trivia, drawing and dancing — all can be done on your phone or your computer, alone or with friends. Cheers to spending these darker and colder post-daylight-savings evenings staring at our screens in a way that makes us quite content.
Spend some time with word games and puzzles
Test yourself daily and tackle the New York Times mini crossword. Its smaller stature is less challenging than their full-sized classic (which helps up any puzzler’s confidence!) and it’s a lot quicker to complete, too.
Play one of the classic word games with friends using the Scrabble App. No tiny tiles to keep track of anymore!
Seek out some words in one of the many categories on The Word Search.com on desktop, tablet or mobile. Topics like ice cream flavours, The Muppets or ’90s movies not your style? You can also build your own.
Shake things up with a game of Boggle with Friends. Use the app to sharpen your skills in solo play or earn bragging rights in tournaments.
Create some creative (and silly) stories using the Mad Libs App. Fill in the blanks is super simple in this online version, plus themed editions such as Hello Kitty, WWE, and ‘adult’ are also available.
listen in on woodland sounds from around the world with the Sounds of the Forest Sound Map. This open source library featuring recordings of forests from all over lets you hear a Sichuan Golden Monkey, in Sichuan, China, the calls of Indri (the largest lemur in Madagascar) recorded in Andasibe, Madagascar, a forest full of birds in Fukushima City, Japan, and sounds of so many other spots, all from home.
Change up your view and look out someone else’s window with Window Swap. Since we’re stuck indoors more this season, click the button inviting you to “open a window somewhere in the world” and be virtually transported.
Explore some of the world’s cultural heritage sites from the comfort of your couch with CyArk. Travel via browser to sites such as the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar, and the Parthenon in Greece. Watch guided tours, explore the sites using 3D renderings, and read in-depth exhibits, all from home.
Re-visit some of your favourite stories, or hear them for the first time using the discover section of Audible. Their timeless listens section features recordings of books you may have been meaning to read for years now, and what better time.
Meander through a museum using the Collections section of Google Arts and Culture. Spend as much time as you want staring at collections at the Museo Frida Khalo, The Met, The Tate, MOCA Bangkok, and so many more — with zero crowds.
Sing songs with friends on Smule, a karaoke app with over 10 million songs to choose from in its catalogue. You can sing solo, record duets, or join a big group, and then share your performances when you’re done. Not ready to share with the world quite yet? You can use the app to help you practice, too.
Whether you’re working on a masterpiece, or just sketching for fun, you can draw or paint a picture with friends in real-time with Aggie, a site that lets you collaborate right in your browser.
Dance with friends (together, but apart) with Just Dance Now — no gaming console required! How? Download the app, connect to a web-cam powered screen (like your smart TV or laptop), enter the room number you’re given into the app, hold your phone in your right hand, and follow the dancers on-screen. (Your phone works as the controller.) There’s no limit to the amount of dancers who can join in, so you and your entire group can learn dances to over 500 songs.
Spend some time making intricate colour-by-number creations on Happy Color. This app has hundreds of relaxing, stress-busting canvases for you to work on over the months ahead.
Try out different (digital) mediums like acrylic and wet watercolour and draw just for fun on Tayasui Sketches. Play with patterns, textures, gradients and more on this incredibly realistic art app.
Replace your in-person pictionary nights with Draw Something evenings with friends. No artistry required, you simply use your finger to draw on your phone’s screen.
Get sucked in by strategy games
Take up one of the greatest pastimes and find a game of Mahjong for every mood on Mahjong.com. The site features six categories of Mahjong to play, and a seemingly endless scroll of themes to discover and enjoy.
Get puzzled by number placement with a classic game of logic and concentration on Sudoku.com. Choose from four levels of difficulty, challenge yourself by setting a timer, get hints, leave yourself notes, and take advantage of the handy “check for mistakes” option when you’re stuck.
Swap out the IRL deck of colourful cards for an online one using the Uno app. You can play solo, partner up with friends, or make new ones online. And if you haven’t played in a while (or at all), this app features a super-helpful tutorial mode to get you started.
Play with friends or put your chess skills to the test in a tournament against one of millions of online opponents on Chess.com. This site has tons of themes to choose from, a simple interface, and a very helpful “focus mode” that lets you zero in on the game at hand, uninterrupted.
Gather your friends (online) for a round of the super-popular game, Among Us. Basically, it’s a digital version of Wink Murder with the addition of some simple video game-style tasks. You’re all aboard a spaceship and there’s an imposter among you trying to kill you off one by one before you make it back to Earth. You’ll need to come together to figure out who it is and vote them off before you’re all betrayed. Easier said than done though because The Imposter is trying to blend in! This game is having a real moment right now — last week, Jagmeet Singh and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez livestreamed their five-and-a-half-hour gaming sesh on Twitch.
Start playing Tetris again — yes, it’s still as addictive as you remember. On Tetris.com you can use your keyboard’s arrow keys to move the puzzle pieces of this ’80s classic around, just like you used to.
Trivia night goes online
Compete in quizzes online with friends and family using QuizWitz. It’s an interactive platform where your computer becomes the game board and players dial in with their phones, making virtual trivia night seem a little more connected.
Have a Sporkle party with up to 25 friends (virtually, of course) using the app that ups the trivia stakes by making players wager their points based on how confident they are that their answers are correct.
Compete against friends in real time or connect with new ones with the myriad of trivia topics on the Quiz Up App (or on your browser). With over 1,200 topics and 600,000 questions, you and your pals are sure to find a subject that sparks your interest.
Not finding the quizzes you’re searching for? Whether you’re creating content for a specific-themed trivia night, or simply want to stump your friends with certain questions, make your own quizzes on any topic you want using the Kahoot App and send them to friends.
No console required
Race around the world and challenge up to seven friends to join you in a nostalgia-inducing round of the classic ’90s-kids classic racing game, Mario Kart Tour. All you need is your phone and the app.
If the typical battle royale-style of Fortnite is a little too stressful, opt for a paddle royale with 1sland, where you compete to be the greatest sailor of all and be the first to the island.
Journey through Middle Earth, exploring for hours on end and battling orcs and more with millions of other players in an interactive game of Lord of the Rings Online.
Take on the role of campsite manager, help animals, make crafts (and friends!), and explore at your own pace in a calming game of Animal Crossing Pocket Camp — it’s an app, so no Nintendo Switch necessary.
For kids — and kids at heart
Learn a little and play plenty with some classic characters like Arthur over on The PBS Kids Games Section.
For games geared toward specific educational levels and topics, take a look at the offerings on Education.com’s Online Games.
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