Online safety for kids: Your digital footprint and digital imprint

Lesson Overview

This lesson explores what it means to leave a digital footprint and discusses what a digital imprint is. It helps young people learn about their own online presence and activity, and make changes if they decide to. This lesson also includes an interactive worksheet and online activities.


Staying safe online means different things to different people. Knowing what your digital footprint is, is part of staying safe and healthy. A digital footprint is the trail of information you leave behind when you use the internet. Depending on your values, priorities, age, life stage, school, family expectations and other factors, you’ll want to set and keep boundaries that work for you.


  1. Talk about digital imprint.
    • A digital imprint is the impact that your online activities leave on you, including things you see, hear or read and also things other people say and do to you online.
    • A digital imprint isn’t necessarily good or bad. It exists and your thoughts and feelings about it and the effects it has on you depend on a lot of different factors such as your values, priorities, age, life stage, school and family expectations.
    • What do you see, hear and read online? Are there things you feel like are a waste of your time or disturbing to you? What do your parents think? Do they have rules about what’s OK and what’s not?
  2. Introduce the idea of a digital footprint.
    • A digital footprint is the trail of information you leave behind when you use the internet.
    • A digital footprint isn’t necessarily good or bad. It exists and your thoughts and feelings about it and the effects it has on you depend on a lot of different factors such as your values, priorities, age, life stage, school and family expectations.
    • Your digital footprint is made by things that are visible such as social media posts from you and other people. This includes photos, status updates, check-ins at locations, online groups and sites that you’ve liked or joined, and posts from other people that you’ve shared.
    • It also includes things that can be learned about you based on your activity such as websites you visit, personal information you enter, messages and emails you send, and so on.
    • When you really start to think it about, it’s A LOT of data!
  3. Do some exploration of digital footprints.
    • Ask for suggestions of famous people to search for online. As a group on a screen that everyone can see, search for those people to give them an idea of how easy it can be to find content about individuals.
    • Ask them to work in small groups and make lists of words that describe the type of content they find when they search for those famous people. Make different lists for each person. Share some of those words with the larger group.
    • Have a conversation with questions like: Are these words mostly positive? Negative? How do you think these people feel about their online presence? How would you feel if all of this information was out there about you?
  4. Hand out the My Digital Footprint worksheet. Allow them to work individually or in pairs to explore their own online presence. Have them look at all the social media sites they use (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and also do an internet search of their names. What do they find? What do they think about that? Are there things they would like to change? Has anyone tagged you in something that makes you uncomfortable or gotten access to your accounts and posted about you?
  5. Reconvene the group and talk about what they found. Were there any surprises? Do they have any ideas for things they’d like to change?


What can you do if you discover things you don’t like about your digital footprint?

  1. Tighten your restrictions on social media:
    • Only accept friend/follow requests from people you know in real life.
    • Set privacy setting so that information about you (including images) is not visible to the public.
    • Change settings, if necessary, so that others need your permission to tag you in posts.
  2. Delete things that you don’t want others to see. They may not completely go away if they have been shared by others or stored somewhere, but you can usually at least make them harder to find.
  3. Reset passwords. Make sure they are strong and do not share them!
  4. Carefully consider every time you post or share whether you want it to live on forever, because it might.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing the impact of a digital footprint and digital imprint and necessary actions to stay safe online.

Additional Instructor Resources

Keeping Clean When You’re A Preteen

Lesson Overview

Most kids know by age 8 or 9 that changes will start happening to their bodies as they get closer to being teenagers and then young adults. What a lot don’t know, however, is that there are also some changes they’ll need to make in how they care for themselves.

Parents, teachers, and other care givers spend quite a bit of time and energy helping kids learn basic hygiene when they are very young: how to wash hands and for how long, brushing teeth, coughing or sneezing into the elbow, and so on. This kind of teaching and coaching is a lot less common, though no less important, for older youth, especially as their bodies begin to change.


When you go through puberty, a lot of physical changes happen. These changes mean that you will have to learn different ways to care for yourself.

Here are some common changes that affect both boys and girls.

  1. Body odor: There are certain sweat glands in your body that only become active once you’ve entered puberty. They produce oils that are different from the sweat you’re used to and can cause different smells, skin irritations and other potential concerns. Using some kind of deodorant or antiperspirant to deal with increase in body odor with help.
  2. Skin and Hair: More oils along with hormones can mean acne and other skin irritation. Acne is typically not caused by poor hygiene, but good hygiene can definitely help keep it in check. You may start to grow more hair, sometimes in places you don’t want it like armpits and pubic areas! Shaving and keeping body hair clean is important.
  3. Breath: Bad breath happens to people of all ages but it can be especially problematic if you are already self-conscious about your changing body. Brushing and flossing teeth twice each day can help keep bad breath in check.
  4. Pubic area: Changes happen to both boys and girls that can affect hygiene. Girls may experience vaginal discharge and will eventually begin menstruating (get their periods). Uncircumcised boys’ foreskins will retract. All boys will start experiencing wet dreams and more frequent erections. Make sure to bathe each day and have feminine hygiene products on hand.

Activity: Ice breaker – Growing Up

  1. Ask the students to mill around to music until you turn it off. When you stop it they should pair up with one other person. If there is an uneven number of students it’s OK to have groups of three.
  2. Have each person tell his or her partner what they wanted to be when they grew up when they were little. Give them a few minutes to talk about this.
  3. Repeat this several time and have them choose a different partner each time.
  4. After the ice breaker, convene the group and ask for a few examples of things people said. There will probably be some funny ones and some things that have changed as the students have matured.
  5. Introduce the topic by telling them that you are going to talk about a particular part of growing up and maturing: puberty.


  1. Write the word PUBERTY on a flip chart. Ask the students to tell you what other words come to mind when they hear it. Write all of these words and phrases on the flip chart. Summarize and clarify by telling them what puberty is:
    • According to the NIH (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) puberty is the time in life when a boy or girl becomes sexually mature. It is a process that usually happens between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys.
    • A lot of physical changes happen during this time and affects boys and girls differently. Those changes mean that boys and girls will have to learn different ways to care for themselves.
  2.  Draw a stick figure or an outline of a body on a pieces of flip chart paper. Explain that you’re going to write and talk about different aspects of self-care using the image as a guide.
    • If you’re comfortable doing so, you can invite the students to help you by writing words or drawing images on the paper that connect to what you’re talking about.
    • Point out that different families have different norms about hygiene and that it’s important to be respectful of those differences.
    • There aren’t right or wrong answers to the topics you’re covering, but there is information that’s important for teens and preteens to know.
  3. Start with the head and face: Ask the students what changes might happen on their heads or faces during puberty. They will likely mention facial hair, acne, and maybe hair in general. You can draw all these things on the image, or write keywords nearby on the paper. This can be your opening to talk about:
    • Shaving: During puberty hair will being growing in new places, including armpits, pubic areas and the face.
      • People make different choices about shaving. In some cultures, shaving may be a standard practice, in others, shaving may be a more personal decision. It’s a good idea to ask someone with experience for guidance in what kind products to use when shaving, such as razors, shaving cream, and after care creams or lotions.
      • Girls may choose to begin shaving their legs, armpits and bikini area.
      • Also mention the myth that once a person starts shaving the hair in that area will grow back thicker and darker. That isn’t true. The stubble may at first be more noticeable because it’s prickly, but it will eventually go back to being how it was before shaving.
    • Acne: Most teens have some acne at some point during their teen years. This is caused mostly by an increase in certain oils.
      • Acne is typically not caused by poor hygiene, but there are things you can do that can help minimize the impact: Wash your face in the morning and at night with a gentle cleanser. Harsh soaps and scrubbing too hard can irritate the skin and make pimples worse.
      • Over-the-counter acne treatments can also be effective in moderation. If the acne is severe or is causing emotional distress, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.
    • Hair: The same oils that causes acne may make your hair seem extra oily. Washing every day with a mild cleanser may help. Try not to scrub too hard or rub with a rough towel when drying. All of this can damage your hair and won’t help the problem you’re trying to solve.
    • Breath: Bad breath happens to people of all ages but it can be especially problematic if you are already self-conscious about your changing body. Brushing and flossing teeth twice each day can help keep bad breath in check.
  4. Then move to the mid-section of the body. Ask the students what changes might happen around their mid-section during puberty. They will likely mention body odor, hair growth or breast development, for girls. You can draw all these things on the image, or write keywords nearby on the paper. This can be your opening to talk about:
    • Deodorant: Armpits are an area that may need attention. Some teens, mostly girls, may choose to shave. You may want to start using some kind of deodorant or antiperspirant to deal with increase in body odor.
    • Pubic area/genitals: In general, it’s important to maintain good daily cleaning routines and to always wear clean underwear and avoid other tight fitting clothes (such as compression shorts) to prevent body odor as well as skin irritation, and that special products such as douches are unnecessary
      • Boys: If they are uncircumcised, they will need to start cleaning their penises. As he grows, the foreskin will loosen on its own. This can take three or more years. The foreskin can be pulled back so the penis can be cleaned properly.
      • Girls: They will get their periods at that average age of 12 and will need to start using tampons or pads. Girls don’t need to use special products such as douches.
      • Both: Hair will start to grow in the pubic area.
  5. Lastly, talk about the hands and feet. Ask the students what changes might happen with their hands and feet during puberty. They will likely mention bad smells. You can draw all these things on the image, or write keywords nearby on the paper. This can be your opening to talk about:
    • Hands and feet: They may start to notice that their palms are sweaty and/or their feet are sweaty and smell bad (or their shoes do). This is caused by changes and increases in the kinds of oils their bodies are producing.
    • Encourage students to wash and dry their hands regularly and wash their feet when they shower or bathe.
    • Socks should be changed regularly, at least every day, and it’s good to let feet air out when you can.
    • Pay attention to whether shoes are getting smelly. If so, wash them if you can, or consider buying odor repelling inserts.


Thank the students for their participation in a sensitive conversation. Let them know that puberty can be intimidating but that everyone goes through it and if they have questions or are having a hard time they should be sure to talk to you or another adult they trust.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue discussing the changes that come with puberty at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Acne – Self care

Zits at my age? Why?

Breathe Easy: Asthma 101

Lesson Overview

Asthma is a disease that causes the small airways in your lungs to become inflamed or swollen. It may also lead to airway spasms. Both of these conditions narrow your airway and make it hard for you to breathe.

Commons asthma triggers include:

  • cigarette smoke (including secondhand smoke)
  • car exhaust and other air pollutants
  • smoke from recreational fires
  • cold air
  • chemical sprays
  • perfumes, scented deodorants and other strong odors
  • allergy triggers such as animal dander, dust, mold, pollen and mites
  • strong emotions
  • exercise, sports, work or play.

Warning signs of an asthma attack vary from person to person. In general, the following are signs of an attack:

  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • wheezing
  • faster breathing
  • itchy or sore throat
  • a drop in your peak flow rate.

You can manage asthma by:

  • using a peak flow meter (A peak flow meter is a small hand-held device to measure how fast you can move air through your lungs.)
  • following an asthma Management Plan
  • exercising
  • eating right
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • working closely with your health care provider.

Asthma Medicines for Children

There are different kinds of medicines to treat asthma. Different medicines work for different people. Two common kinds of medicine are:

Controllers. These are used daily to help prevent a person’s airways from getting inflamed. They are also called anti-inflammatories.

Rescuers (relievers). These are used when person is having symptoms to keep an asthma flare-up from getting worse. Rescuers sometimes can help relieve asthma symptoms. They are also called bronchodilators. It is important for people with asthma to always keep a supply of rescue medicine on hand, and keep this supply up-to-date.


  1. Introduce the topic of asthma and show the brief introductory video:
  2. Give each young person a straw. Tell them to put the straws in their mouths and try to breath. They should have their mouths closed around their straws. Have them try blocking the tip of the straw a bit. This is what it feels like to have an asthma attack.
  3. Ask if anyone knows anyone who has asthma or has asthma themselves. It’s very likely there will be a number of people. About 12 percent of teens in Minnesota and Wisconsin have been diagnosed with asthma. There are definitely more young people than that who have asthma-like symptoms but who have not been tested or treated.
  4. Distribute the “How to Care for Asthma” handout and locate the “Asthma Triggers” checklist and ask them to check off any of the triggers they are exposed to on a regular basis.
  5. Ask the group to tell you what kinds of things they think people with asthma can and can’t do. Then explain that as long as people who have asthma are able to control their symptoms, they can do anything anyone else can do: exercise, play, hang out with friends.

Ask them to flip over their checklists to the “How to Care for Asthma” side and to work in pairs to brainstorm things they can do to support a friend or family member who has asthma, or to manage their own asthma if they’ve been diagnosed. For a friend or family member this might be reminding them to take their medicines, being kind and understanding if they have to take a break for an activity, not wearing strong perfumes or other scents around them, or telling a teacher or other adult right away if they think someone is having an asthma attack. For themselves it might be remembering to do all these things. Encourage young people to be creative with this brainstorm.


Ask young people to say aloud their ideas and make a list on a white board or flip chart paper of the ways they can support people with asthma or manage their own asthma. The idea is to build awareness of and compassion for people who live with this chronic condition. Distribute the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish and ask them to be sure to share it with their parents.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Asthma 101: Helping kids breathe easy

Additional Instructor Resources

Asthma videos – Allina Health Video Library

American Lung Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

The Concussion Conundrum

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the basic concepts of concussions. Youth will discuss brain injuries and complete a KWL chart (already Know, Want to know, what I Learned) to list facts about concussions. A hands-on learning activity gives young people a chance to experience what living with a brain injury may be like. Finally, the youth will reflect on what they learned about brain injuries and how to prevent them.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about concussions. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.

Young people who play sports or are active other ways, such as riding bikes or playing on the playground, are at risk for concussion. This is a blow to the head that affects how the brain works. It is a form of brain injury. You can’t see it but it causes changes in a person’s behavior, thinking or physical actions.

Your brain is a soft organ that is protected by spinal fluid and your skull. Normally the spinal fluid acts as a cushion between brain and skull. When your head or body is hit hard enough, however, your brain can get knocked against your skull and be concussed. Signs of a concussion can occur right away or hours or even days after the injury occurs. It’s possible to have a concussion even if you never lose consciousness. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can include:

  •   headache
  •   problems with memory
  •   upset stomach (nausea) or vomiting
  •   balance issues or dizziness
  •   double or blurry vision
  •   being sensitive to light or sounds
  •   feeling hazy, foggy or groggy
  •   problems concentrating
  •   confusion
  •   not “feeling right”
  •   seizures.

Long-term problems are possible if a person has more than one concussion, or is re-injured before the brain fully heals. That’s why rest, seeking medical treatment, and following a doctor’s instructions are all important. Even better is to prevent concussions in the first place. The Centers for Disease Control recommends these prevention methods:

  1. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
  2. Wear a helmet that is fitted and maintained properly when:
    • riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle
    • playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, lacrosse or boxing
    • using in-line skates or riding a skateboard
    • batting and running bases in baseball or softball
    • riding a horse
    • skiing, sledding or snowboarding.
  3. Ensure that during athletic games and practices, you:
    • use the right protective equipment (should be fitted and maintained properly in order to provide the expected protection)
    • follow the safety rules and the rules of the sport
    • practice good sportsmanship
    • do not return to play with a known or suspected concussion until you have been evaluated and given permission by an appropriate health care professional.
  4. Make living areas safer by:
    • installing window guards to prevent people falling out of open windows
    • keeping stairs clear of clutter
    • securing rugs and using rubber mats in bathtubs
    • not playing on fire escapes or on other unsafe platforms.


Introduce the lesson by discussing concussions, how they occur, and why young people need to be aware of this type of brain injury. Use the information about concussions in the Instructor Notes above.

Ask if anyone in the class has ever had a concussion. If so, ask if they are willing to share a little bit about what that was like.

Activity: Concussion KWL

Hand out the KWL Student Activity Sheet. Invite the youth to fill out the worksheet with a list of things that they know and things they still have questions about on this topic. On a KWL chart, full sentences are not necessary; the ideas are more are important. Suggest they use bullet points or numbers to make their lists easier to read.

Activity: Experiencing Altered Senses

In advance of the lesson set up the stations as described below.

Explain that you have some stations set up with activities that are simulations of some of the possible effects of a brain injury such as concussion. Divide the young people into groups and have them move through the stations before holding a discussion at the end:

    1. Sensory loss: Sometimes people who have a brain injury don’t feel things the same way anymore, either temporarily or even permanently. Simulate this by putting common items in a bucket filled with rice. Have young people put a thick rubber glove on their dominant hand and reach into the rice to feel the items. Can they identify what they are?[1]
    2. Vision impairment: Smear the lenses of several pairs of goggles with petroleum jelly. Have the youth do a variety of regular classroom activities such as sharpen a pencil, copy a sentence off the board, write their names on a worksheet, walk to the bathroom and so on while wearing the goggles.[2]
    3. Loss of taste: Have several types of snacks available. Have each young person choose one of the types of snacks to taste. The first taste should be with their noses plugged. Have them write down a few words to describe the taste (such as sweet, salty, spicy). Then have them taste the same snack with their nose unplugged and again write down a description.
    4. Sensory hypersensitivity: Give the youth a math worksheet that’s at their level. Have them complete the worksheet while wearing headphones blaring loud music.

After the youth have completed the stations, reconvene the group a debrief using the follow questions as guides:

    1. What was it like to do those different things? Describe the experience as well as your feelings as you trying to accomplish them.
    2. Were some of them more difficult than others? Why?
    3. Were some of them more frustrating or upsetting than others? Why?
    4. What surprised you?
    5. Did you know that having a concussion could cause these kinds of problems?

[1] Adapted from Sharon Thorson, Injury Prevention Specialist, and the Denver Osteopathic Foundation, and from the “Brain Injury Empathy Experience” of Mapleton Center for Rehabilitation.
[2] ibid.


To conclude the lesson, ask the young people what they now know about how to prevent concussions. (Discuss and make sure they touch on all of the information mentioned above.)

Ask the youth to complete the last section of the KWL chart on the student activity sheet, listing things they learned about concussions.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing brain health and brain injuries at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog(s)

Additional Instructor Resources

Information about Concussion in Sports from