The web is great for so many things: connecting with friends and family, online shopping, getting into Twitter fights with bot accounts – you name it. But it can also be a giant time-suck … and, if we’re not careful, it can make us dumber by the click.
So if you want a brain boost instead of a brain drain, here are some websites that’ll make you smarter:
This one couldn’t be simpler. It’s a site with a bunch of free games that will light up all the right areas of your brain. Last weekend we visited this website ... and suddenly realized an hour had gone by while we’d been playing this game: Colored Lines. And that was the first one we clicked on randomly!
So, if you’re looking for some more intellectually fulfilling ways to fill your time (because doom-scrolling ain't it) ... this is a great place to start.
If you’re a busy person who has a hankering to learn but not enough time to sign up for a full-fledged course … this is the site for you. Here’s how it works:
First, you select one of their (very cool) topics, like “The Philosophy of Happiness,” “Learning How To Think Clearly,” or “Introduction to Personality Psychology.” And voila! Every day in your email inbox, you’ll get a 5-minute lesson on that topic. You can watch or read as you get ready for your day. The lessons are short enough that you can complete them during your morning routine, while eating breakfast or even in line at Starbucks.
CreativeLive has a similar business model to (the perhaps more well-known) Masterclass. But their expert-led classes are focused on ‘creative’ skills, and their courses are grouped into categories like "Photo & Video," "Art & Design," "Money & Life," etc.
Like most high-end, well-produced lesson series online, CreativeLive is available for a fee. But they have a compelling $12.95/month deal that gives you access to pretty much every lesson and teacher on their site.
We took a course on video editing, another on managing money, and one on Photoshop:
(OK clearly we didn't complete that last one!)
Want to expand your brain AND help end world hunger at the same time? Freerice has got you covered. This very cool site is run by a non-profit that works with private sponsors to send rice worldwide to hungry people in need.
Here’s how it works: you answer trivia questions and, for each correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated through the World Food Programme. There are a ton of trivia categories – everything from pop music, to world geography, to English grammar – and you can set your difficulty level from 1 to 5 (heads up: level 5 is QUITE hard). According to the site, they’ve donated more than 214 billion grains of rice to people in need.
How Stuff Works is the OG site for anyone in the last 20 years who’s had a burning question like, “How does a dishwasher work?”, “How does the electoral college work?” or “How does hibernation work?”
They've expanded into the podcasting world with a slew of fun, mind-expanding shows … but the website is still the place to go to deep-dive on a huge range of topics. A word of warning: you can get lost on this site for hours before realizing you skipped meals and forgot to shower. So reader be warned: only visit How Stuff Works if you don't have something important to do later today.
Like to read? Don’t like paying separately for each thing you wanna read? Boom. Scribd. It’s basically like Netflix for the written word. And that includes books, magazines, newspapers, and even audiobooks. For a subscription fee of $11.99 a month, you’ll get access to more reading material than you could go through in 100 lifetimes.
Technically you won’t be spending time ON the Scribd website as much as on your iPad, Kindle, or wherever you like to take in a good read. But it can serve as your virtual bookstore where you can wander the halls and pick out a mind-expanding book without having to take off your pajamas.
Quora is essentially a hybrid of Google searches, Wikipedia entries, and social media. Like Google, it’s a place to get answers to a huge variety of questions you might have. Like Wikipedia, the answers are all user generated. And like social media, people can comment on answers as well as upvote and downvote the ones they like or dislike.
On Quora you'll find all questions across a huge range of topics, from "What's the most surprising historical fact you know?" to “What’s the best way to learn computer programming?” and “How many kids did Monica and Chandler have?” (hey, we didn't say they were all intellectually challenging!). Then you can scroll through user-generated answers and be on your way.
Quora devotees love it because it's a fun place to surf around and you can spend hours diving into fun topics and answers on the site. For example, check out the following pages:“What are the most surreal places to visit?” and “What can I learn/know right now in 10 minutes that will be useful for the rest of my life?” And our personal favorite, “What is your lame superpower?”
And if you’re looking to expand your mind *offline* … consider picking up a copy of The Deep game!