Filling In a Crossword Puzzle

Filling in a crossword puzzle (Credit: Openverse)

NEW YORK — Move over boomers, doing the daily crossword puzzle is apparently a game for the young now. A new poll of over 1,000 Americans finds half of Gen Z regularly fill out crossword puzzles — with paper and ink! Despite living in the age of apps and mobile games, it turns out 50 percent of young adults like to challenge their brains the “old school” way, more than any other age group in the country.

In fact, only 38 percent of baby boomers, 31 percent of Gen X, and 15 percent of millennials dive into the daily crossword on a regular basis. The biggest reasons people fill these puzzles out are for the challenge (69%) and to exercise the brain (65%). Meanwhile, one in five say it makes them feel smart and seven percent call it a family tradition.

Interestingly, it seems like crossword puzzles are making a comeback in modern society. Two in three respondents say they prefer them to the very popular games Wordle and Sudoku. It’s not surprising that some call doing the crossword a family tradition. Americans say their family members are the most common people they know who also share a love for crosswords (56%). Meanwhile, just 14 percent say their spouse joins in on the fun and only 11 percent have co-workers who do the same.

Forget the app, give me a pencil!

The poll, commissioned by Unscramble words, also reveals that nine in 10 like to finish crossword puzzles in the comfort of their own home. However, one in nine (11%) provided a little “TMI,” admitting that their favorite place to do the crossword is in the bathroom. Hopefully, they remember to wash off that pen or pencil.

Person doing a crossword puzzle
Photo by Ross Sneddon

Speaking of ink and paper, it turns out only one in four crossword players prefer to use an app or website on their phone or tablet. Over four in 10 (43%) opt for a book of crossword puzzles and 36 percent fill out the ones in newspapers. For those doing it the old-fashioned way, 60 percent go with a pencil, while a confident 40 percent put their answers down in ink.

Overall, slightly more women fill out crossword puzzles regularly (31%) than men (26%). Another 65 percent of respondents say they “occasionally” do crossword puzzles. On average, it takes Americans 4.2 hours to solve a crossword puzzle. That may be why only one in five claim they “always finish” the crossword.

For those who don’t have an entire morning to devote to playing “honestly,” one in five Americans wait 10 minutes before they start looking up words and cheating.

Want to look smart? Do the crossword on Monday

Nearly one in five Americans in the poll say they do a daily crossword puzzle. However, the Sunday puzzle is the most popular, with 73 percent saying they spend the end of the weekend challenging their brain.

While Sunday may be the most popular puzzle to do, it’s also the hardest! More than one in three call a publication’s Sunday crossword puzzle the hardest of the week. For those looking for bragging rights, try the Monday puzzle instead, as 43 percent think Monday puzzles are the easiest.

crossword puzzles

Survey methodology:

Unscramble words surveyed 1,000 Americans on their habits and preferences with regard to crossword puzzles. 49% were female, 49% were male, and 2% were trans or nonbinary. Ages ranged from 18 to 80 with an average age of 40 years old.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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