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Empowering Digital Wellness: The Journey of Rijul Arora from BITS Pilani to Ernst & Young

Empowering Digital Wellness: The Journey of Rijul Arora from BITS Pilani to Ernst & Young

Empowering Digital Wellness: The Journey of Rijul Arora from BITS Pilani to Ernst & Young

Rijul Arora, a graduate of BITS Pilani (Goa, ‘14) with an M.Sc. (Hons) in Economics and a B.E. in Electrical and Electronics, is currently working at Ernst & Young as a Senior Consultant at EY global metaverse lab. He is a leading public speaker with expertise in Digital Wellness and Digital Detox. He featured in TEDx, IIT Bombay, SONY, Assocham, Dainik Bhaskar, etc. He is a Coach, Author, Educator, and a proud BITSian with a vision of leading people to a healthy relationship with technology, the internet, and social media.

Can you mention any memories at BITS that are ineradicable to you?

On a somber note, a memory that affected me a lot was when BITS Goa witnessed its first suicide when I was in my fourth year. The person, my batch mate, used to live at a distance of seven to eight doors from me. On my way to class, I was shocked to see the Dean with professors at staircases, then an ambulance in front of the mess. As the day progressed, we learned the details. I have been volunteering for the last five years for a suicide hotline.

A memory I adore is when I got Shrimati Kiran Bedi on board as a brand ambassador; I remember one of my mentees got Siddharth Slathia to campus for Aurora Nights; this was a proud and memorable moment for me.

And yes, those night outs, chilling with friends over songs, and the cherry on the cake was the weather of Goa; they were the BEST memories.

You held various PoRs in college; how would you advise a fresher to explore and balance academics?

Get involved, in my opinion, but with a spoonful of balance as well. I held three PORs (Positions of Responsibility), which helped me a lot in terms of my growth and also the friendships I formed. Honest advice to a fresher is to be involved in various clubs/departments, but as you go forth, stick to those one or two about which you genuinely have passion. The amount of communication, leadership, and management skills you absorb from extracurriculars is a game changer.

You have left a remarkable trail of accomplishments, including being a business and world economy delegate from India, at Harvard, and then in Germany. Can you elaborate on your work in these areas?

These were some of the international business conferences where I represented BITS. I am grateful to BITS for partially funding me and solving case studies, which included digitalization problems, putting in my ideas, and providing a different perspective. This undoubtedly gave me a platform for networking and to embrace opportunities. I did a program called YLAC (Young Leader for Active Citizenship), in which we were in groups and leveraging policies to create employment.

You have been an active public speaker at TEDx over Digital Wellness. What is Digital Wellness, and why is it crucial in the era of digitalization?

Digital wellness is not digital detox. It's not being anti-technology. I talk about balance; I believe in the power of technology; it's about understanding and removing those harms. So that's what I talk about: the sweet spot of balance between technology and the offline world so that it enhances productivity, personal well-being, and concentration. It is high time we had awareness and control over electronics.

How can one limit and optimize their screen time? What can one infer from strategies for a healthier online life?

I call this an ABC framework. 'A' stands for awareness, which means checking and developing an awareness of where you invest your time. Also, qualitatively, one can check the Digital Flourishing Survey, which helps you understand if digital technology affects your physical/mental health, communication, relationships, etc.

'B' stands for behavior change; it's about understanding subtle changes one can bring to one's digital life. One can change default settings, such as turning off autoplay, and the same is true with Netflix if they find it a distraction. Also, DF Tube, a Chrome extension, can be used to remove recommendation bars, playlists, or comments, enabling you to make YouTube distraction-free. Applications like Forest help one to focus on the cost of sowing a seed. Another way is to keep a self-check over your feelings and gradually develop control of digital habits.

'C' stands for Consistency; just like physical health, one has to be consistent to change one's goals to reality; the beginning points may vary from person to person, but what matters is Consistency, in this case, Consistency in controlling and guiding your digital habits.

What are the preliminary measures our youth should take in these alarming hours?

'The Anxious Generation' by Jonathan Haidt highlights this terrible trend of rising suicide attempts in 'Generation Alpha.' Since, from a parental lens, access to social media before thirteen is not good, it must be introduced much later in the case of a cell phone. A kid must be gradually introduced to this technology. Start with video calls and emails, then gradually raise the bar according to the kid's adaptation. You realize that a kid is just three clicks away from consuming false media or even pornography. Say no to gadgets before sleep, as it profoundly affects a child's productivity and overall performance. Supervision becomes crucial at this stage. Imposing regulations on kids would never work in the long run; the need is to collaborate with them and know how much time they want to use a gadget and for what cause. Communication is the key.

The last tip would be for parents; they must be walking the talk. Parents must set an example by showing their kids how to manage screen time and invest in quality family time. Ultimately, it is not to keep on supervising; it is to empower their children and make them realize both sides of using tech, and indeed, it won't happen in a fortnight; patience matters.

What sparked your desire to become a speaker and a changemaker in digital wellness?

Undoubtedly, I became an accidental public speaker. I took an elective called Effective Public Speaking at BITS, where I got the push in this field. I still remember my nervousness while delivering a talk on the economy and Zimbabwe in the auditorium. I was terrible at public speaking, but now I'm not. From that to today, what lies in between is 'practice.' I used to practice my speaking skills a lot. Since I've been on this journey, I find it essential to spread this message of digital wellness amongst the youth, which is the need of the hour.

What tips would you like to pass on to your juniors at BITS family for their enriching, innovative, and digitally healthy journey ahead?

Learn to embrace boredom and take a moment off to introspect, plan, and execute again; this will open a channel of creativity in your actions. Do invest time in yourselves. You may connect well with your plans and actions—the concept of fubbing which one should avoid, as relationships in college are very pivotal. Keep experimenting, leave your comfort zone, challenge your thoughts, meet different people, and get new perspectives. Traveling makes connecting with people much smoother, giving you a sense of empathy. Keep achieving!