Digital Footprint and Copyright

Digital Citizen and Knowledge Constructor
Girl and Boy avatar

Avatars, Digital Footprint and Image Copyright


Students will design an avatar for use online while learning about the importance of managing digital identities, online safety, and fair use of images.

An avatar generally speaking is the embodiment of a person or idea. However, in the computer world, an avatar specifically refers to a character that represents an online user. Avatars are commonly used in multiplayer gaming, online communities, and Web forums.

Students will:

  • Be able to distinguish between what is safe and unsafe when posting online images.
  • Be able to know when and how to cite online images.

Vocabulary Words:

  1. Avatar: An avatar is an icon or image representing a person for online use.

  2. Identity Theft: The stealing a person’s private information for use, usually for financial gain.

  3. Digital Footprint: The footprint is information about a person that exists online about a person as a result of online activity.

  4. Upload: To upload is when you transfer a file from the computer to another location.

To prepare for this lesson:

  • Review the avatar site tutorial.

  • Bookmark the avatar maker site.

  • Review options located in the resource section for supplemental lessons on digital footprints and managing a safe online presence if desired.

  • Visually impaired students may benefit from utilizing the accessibility options on a browser to increase font size, contrast, etc.
  • See the Accommodations Page and Charts on the 21things4students website in the Teacher Resources. 

Directions for this activity:

  1. Discuss with students what a digital footprint is and how once an image is uploaded online it may be copied or used potentially without the student’s permission.
  2. Describe how even if the image is taken down immediately, there may be a copy made that the student no longer can take down or prevent others from using it.
  3. Describe the importance of not posting images of themselves, family, or friends to stay safe online. Discuss how posting pictures of friends with or without their permission may also cause problems (their parents do not allow them to post online, puts that student at risk, etc.).
  4. Describe what an avatar is and why and when one is used. Connect it to social media accounts and online gameplay such as using Xbox 360. Discuss what is a safe image versus one that reveals personal information.
  5. Model the website either as a whole group or use the supplied tutorial and have students view and create an avatar.
  6. Discuss other choices for safe avatars (animal images, icons of favorite sports, etc) and what constitutes an unsafe or plagiarized image to post online.
  7. Discuss when it is ok to use an image you find online and how to cite it.

Optional: As a class, upload the avatar to the learning management system used in your class (Google Classroom, Schoology, Edmodo, etc.). Provide time for students to view their classmates’ avatars. If this option is used the classroom lesson will extend to approximately 45 minutes.

Different options for assessing the students: 

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding

MITECS: Michigan adopted the "ISTE Standards for Students" called MITECS (Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students) in 2018.

Digital Citizen
2a. Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.
2b. Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.
2c. Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
2d. Students manage their personal data to maintain digital privacy and security and are aware of data-collection technology used to track their navigation online.

Knowledge Constructor
3c. Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

Device: PC, Chromebook, Mac, iPad Browser: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, ALL

Avatar Maker

PBS Four Ways to Help Students Avoid Identity Theft 

Starwars Avatar Maker 

21things4students Digital Footprint Resources 

  • 4.W.8 Gather relevant digital and print resources and provide a list of sources for a project.

  • 4.W.7 Create a biography and avatar trading card on a person of interest.

4.G.A.1 Curate images to demonstrate an understanding of geometric attributes by collecting and citing images that contain the desired attributes in a common object found in the environment (i.e. an image of a doorstop shows a right angle).

3-5 EST1-3 Create a guide including images and citations documenting a need or want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

4.P3.3.1 Compose a short essay expressing a position on a contemporary issue complete with relevant images and citations that support a reasoned argument.

This task card was created by Patricia Paxton, Armada Area Schools, January 2018. Updated February 2024.