Culture

30 free and fantastic internet activities — round 2

Links to dive into to decompress, explore, play, ponder, learn — and other alternatives to scrolling!

Links to dive into to decompress, explore, play, ponder, learn — and other alternatives to scrolling!

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Delightful as it is to spend the evening scrolling through more animal and food videos — there are many free internet activities that you may be missing out on. As a follow-up to this original list of amazing free internet activities, here are 30 more — from ways to boost happiness, brain power and creativity to enjoyable games you can chill out to on your own, or with friends. So, sit back and discover more free and awesome things the internet has to offer.

Level up your happiness and peace of mind

Build better habits and well-being with Intellect, an app built by a team of psychologists to help improve self-esteem, the way you interact in relationships, and self-awareness. You can use the app to help you tackle specific goals, like managing anxiety or increasing productivity, or to help you learn how to deal with moments of struggle, like when you're feeling disappointed or insecure, or to simply take a moment to reflect via one of the guided journals.

Quiet a noisy mind and get through stressful days with the Antistress app. There are little goals to reach, or tasks that need completing — just comb through the multitude of games, which can be as simple as swinging a Newton's cradle, making shapes with a potter's wheel, or removing kernels off a cob of corn, to name a few.

Positive reviews have continued to pour in for The Science of Well-Being, a 10-week self-paced course offered by Yale University. The course was originally only offered to Yale students but grew to such popularity that professor Dr. Laurie Santos took it to the masses via Coursera for all to benefit. It begins by measuring your baseline happiness (to compare with your happiness at the end of the 10-week journey) before diving into lectures that include topics like the correlation between money and life satisfaction, and how much of our happiness is controlled by our genes or our mindset.

Regular meditation has a host of benefits including training the brain to improve mindfulness and focus. The Insight Timer app offers an extensive library of different types of meditations, from guided visualizations to sleep music, from teachers around the world. There are also live and recorded talks available to tune into from people like Lalah Delia, Elizabeth GIlbert, and more.

In SuperBetter, you can participate in various daily tasks to build physical and mental health. It was created by researcher and game designer Jane McGonigal who, while suffering from a painful and prolonged concussion, invented the SuperBetter game to aid in her recovery and strengthen her resilience. Her TED Talk — with over 7 million views — is an inspiring watch.

Start a regular gratitude practice with the Presently App, a very simple journaling app you can use to record daily entries. You can set reminders for your practice, reflect on your older entries, and get inspired by quotes and journaling prompts.

Chill out to these games

Wallace and Gromit fans may be familiar with the spin-off animated children's series Shaun the Sheep, which has branched out to online games. My pick: Sustainable Shaun, where you'll get to build an eco-friendly city, managing natural resources to keep all the resident animals happy.

Children's book illustrator Gergley Dudás offers an activity for adults and kids alike — hours of fun on his blog of seek-and-find picture games, created for for your searching pleasure. 

The June's Journey app combines a family drama murder mystery with finding hidden objects in a 1920s-themed whodunnit. As the game progresses, you'll need to help detective June Parker solve puzzles to continue the story.

As a new restaurant owner in Animal Restaurant, you're responsible for juggling various tasks including promoting the restaurant to attract customers, taking food orders, and expanding the business by using the money you make to hire new staff and improve decor and amenities.

An oldie but a goodie, Candy Crush Saga has been a favourite since its inception in 2012. The goal of the basic game is to accumulate points by swiping candies to create a match of three (or more, for bonus points) of the same colour.

The graphics alone make Alto's Adventure worth playing. It's an endless runner game in which you're snowboarding through scenic landscapes. The design is minimalist, yet the artistic details are astounding. 

In Hay Day, your uncle has hung up his farmer's hat and given you the farm to manage and grow — from a bare-bones estate to your own flourishing farmland with livestock and crops.

Boost your brain power

Challenge your brain to pick up a new language with the Duolingo app, which offers 37 languages to choose from. Learn to read, speak (your pronunciation is recorded for accuracy), and converse at any skill level. Note: Game of Thrones and Star Trek fans may be delighted to know they can practice their High Valyrian and Klingon using this app.

As the largest and oldest IQ society, the Mensa organization celebrates higher intelligence in the top two per cent of the population. But if you're in the other 98 per cent (like most of us!), you can sharpen your mind with their Mensa-approved games like puzzles, KenKen, and word jumbles.

Exercise your memory muscles with Magic Cards, a simple game that requires you to match cards into pairs. All the cards are faced down to start and you can only select two cards at a time to look at and match. It's a test of remembering which cards you've viewed already and their placement.

The Wordscapes app combines word search with anagrams and a crossword puzzle to challenge your thinking and enhance your vocabulary.

Peters Township Public Library created the brain-teasing Hogwarts Digital Escape Room game for Harry Potter fans — or anyone who likes a puzzling fantasy adventure.

Get lost in Braingle's vast collection of brain teasers, trivia, puzzles, memory tests, ciphers, and more. There's something for everyone here.

Venture out into the world virtually

Learn about the many world heritage sites using the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) interactive map, available in eight different languages. In Canada alone, there are 20 to explore and add to your future travel list.

There's something about watching wild animals that's so captivating. With Explore's library of live cams around the world, you can watch baby pandas in Sichuan, China, monkeys along Olifants River in South Africa, and more in real time.

Visit the wonders of the natural world with Google Earth Voyager: Nature collections. Discover Enchanted Forests, learn about the crab migration on Christmas Island, and visit top birding destinations around the world.

Discover interesting 360-degree-view cityscapes, architecture, and greenspace via 360 Cities, where you can travel virtually from a barber's shop in the Caribbean to a Private Examination Room at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. With so much to explore, a good starting point may be to comb through their Editor's Picks first.

Play with pals (or make new friends online)

Much like Pictionary, Drawize allows you to draw and guess pictures with friends in a private game or with other online players. The person with the most points accumulated from guessing pictures correctly the quickest is the winner. 

Compete against other online players around the world to become the largest snake. In Slither, you must eat pellets to grow in size while avoiding hitting other snakes in your path — if you do, it's game over but if they hit you (which you can strategically make happen), then they're killed and you have the chance to eat their remains.

Put together a jigsaw puzzle — from a 35-piece puzzle to 1014 pieces — on your own, with friends, or make it public for anyone to join in and solve quickly. There are loads of different images to choose from like a bulldog lying on a mini couch or a Cézanne still life.

Friends divide into two teams in the Codenames game, in which the rival spymasters give clues to their teammate(s) so that they can collectively solve this word association-style competition. Tip: The web platform provides little instructions for novices, so those who need a refresher, can watch an example here.

Cultivate your artistic side

Have fun doodling or creating visual masterpieces with Sketch.io. I particularly like the special tools that give us the ability to experiment with spirograph and animal fur effects.

Think you have the chops to create music magic? The Music Maker Jam app allows you to become a music producer using their library samples, such as electronic, instrumental, and vocal — and in various genres including rock, pop, and hip hop. 

Nourish your inner writer by creating haikus. With the HaikuJAM app (available on Google Play) you'll collaborate with people to create unexpected poetry, while in Foldpass (available on iOS) you can write haikus with friends — and craft graphic posters to match what you come up with.


Janet Ho is a writer and hobby artist. You can follow her at @janetonpaper.

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