**This is a collaborative post written by Taylor Walton**
So much of our daily modern life revolves around spending time in front of screens. We work on them, use them for entertainment, communicate with loved ones in far away places, and just generally use them to while away the hours by distracting ourselves with Instagram, Pinterest, and the like.
If this sounds like you, the last thing you probably want to do is spend more time in front of a screen learning a new hobby! Yes, it’s important to find the right balance between engaging with real life and dipping into the virtual world, but wouldn’t you rather use your downtime online in a more productive way, learning new skills and participating in fun, rewarding activities instead of getting lost down a midnight YouTube spiral?
Living as we do in the 21st Century, it’s unlikely that we’ll be screen-free for a very long time – if at all. However, improving the quality of the time you spend online by picking up a new hobby like the ones featured below means that you’ll really be making the most out of the incredible resource that is the World Wide Web.
If your experience with gaming ended at the demise of the SNES or Mega Drive, you’re missing out on entire worlds of possibility. Gaming right now is a booming industry and it’s bigger than it ever has been before. There are mobile games that can boost your productivity, online games that will connect you with players on the other side of the world, console games that are just as immersive as Game of Thrones or Little Fires Everywhere, and even brand new career paths opening up for professional and competitive gamers.
No matter what your own individual interests are, there’s a gaming vertical out there to suit you. Maybe you’ll fall in love with sandbox games where you can build and populate brand new worlds, or maybe you’ll be up for the challenge of an amateur eSports tournament, or even a mobile Battle Royale brawl.
Another gaming vertical that’s now popular with a whole range of people is online casino gaming. Playing card and slots games online isn’t just for diehard casino fans; there’s a whole new social element involved with playing online and it’s an excellent way to boost your brainpower. Playing a card game like Blackjack online can have a positive impact on your cognitive abilities and short-term memory, while poker will do wonders for effective decision making and even improve your intuition.
The Internet has made the world a much smaller place, so if you’re fond of travelling or have an interest in other cultures there’s no excuse not to broaden your linguistic horizons. Learning a language online can be as simple and straightforward as watching a YouTube video or downloading a podcast, and as well as being something fun to do it also provides a lot of health boosting benefits. People who learn to speak more than one language have better memories, greater critical thinking and problem-solving skills, enhanced concentration and listening skills, and are much better at multitasking too. Becoming bilingual will also keep your brain young, something we all need as we navigate life’s challenges!
There are a multitude of ways to learn languages online, from the do-it-yourself route using YouTube and apps like Duolingo and Babbel, to more linear learning programs like Pimsieur or EdX’s audio courses. And of course, there’s a whole community of support at the tip of your fingertips too, with forums like FluentU and Language Learners connecting native and second language speakers all across the globe.
Upskill your CV
Hobbies can be entertaining and improve your life skills, but there are also some new things you can learn online that will really upskill your CV. Ok, so it may not be a hobby in the way that learning to knit or bake cookies is, but if you treat learning a new professional skill like a hobby you’re more likely to enjoy doing it. Plus, it could end up helping you land your dream job, start a new business, or simply improve your prospects for promotion or a raise in your current profession.
One of the obvious skills to learn is coding. Even if you aren’t looking to break into the world of programming, simply having a grasp of the basics is a pretty useful thing to have. Coding is logical and structured, and while you may not end up building the next Wikipedia you could end up writing short scripts and programs to make daily computer tasks a lot easier. Platforms like W3Schools and Code Academy are filled with tutorials, while organisations like Women Who Code have some excellent resources for getting started with this rewarding subject.
If coding really isn’t your thing, you can explore your creative side and still upskill yourself with online courses in Photoshop, Pixar storytelling, iPhone photography, Graphic Design and lots more at websites like SkillShare.com.