March 17, 2023

The Kia Challenge: Helping students navigate the latest TikTok challenge

TikTok: Students’ one-stop shop to find videos on everything under the sun, from entertaining videos by their favorite influencers to dance trends and even “how to” tutorials. And speaking of tutorials, a new one has hit teen students’ feeds…one that is dangerous and could get them arrested: The Kia Challenge. The Kia Challenge is a TikTok trend that shows students how to steal older models of Kia and Hyundai cars. This dangerous trend encourages people to steal these cars by using a screwdriver and a USB cable instead of a key to start the car. In the last year alone, 175 teens in Memphis, TN were arrested and accused of car theft. 

With about two-thirds of teens using TikTok, this new challenge is a reminder that students need guidance on how to always play to their core while navigating their social media apps. 

What Happened

In response to The Kia Challenge, Kia and Hyundai have updated the software on millions of vehicles and sent out steering wheel locks to people who own them. But what steps have TikTok and YouTube taken to prevent teens from seeing these videos? 

  • TikTok now blocks and removes videos that teach people how to steal Kia or Hyundai cars. For example, when you search “How to steal Kia,” you’re shown a “No results found” page. 
  • YouTube has released a statement saying they will remove some videos but may leave certain ones up for educational or documentary purposes. 

TikTokers look out for one another

While this trend is an example of a dangerous one that students may come across on TikTok, people on TikTok are looking out for one another and actively warning their followers about the challenge. Some users are even creating videos in response to the challenge where they show how to protect their car and even share commentary on why this challenge is not one we should be taking part in. Others share authentic, powerful videos about how having their vehicles stolen has affected and impacted their lives.

TSI’s Take

TikTok trends come and go, which means we can choose the ones we take part in and the ones we avoid completely. There is no shortage of positive or fun TikTok trends that we can watch or even do. But, trends like The Kia Challenge are dangerous and harmful for everyone involved. The Kia Challenge is an opportunity for educators to remind their students to always play to their core when navigating the trends they come across on TikTok and other social media apps. 

Equip your students to reflect their values and character in their actions online when they come across these kinds of challenges by encouraging them to:

  1. Use the Block feature on TikTok to report videos encouraging others to participate in dangerous trends.
  2. Avoid actively or passively participating in trends like The Kia Challenge and participate in positive social media trends instead.
  3. Share the realities of negative social media trends with their peers. Students have the power to be a positive influence online and offline. 
  4. Consider reaching out to law enforcement or an adult they trust if they suspect or know of someone who has participated in a dangerous, illegal trend. 
  5. Follow people on social media who spread positivity, are interested in their hobbies, and encourage them to play to their core.

If you want to learn about positive TikTok trends that students are participating in, check out our blog on three TikTok trends that your students love. 

Always stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest trends online by subscribing to our newsletter where we talk about trending tech and social media news weekly! In the meantime, check out our Instagram and TikTok @thesocialinst for tips and highlights on all the well-being, social media, and tech trends impacting students.

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in understanding student experiences and creator of #WinAtSocial, a gamified, online learning platform that equips students, educators, and families to navigate social experiences — online and offline — in healthy ways. Our unique, student-respected approach incorporates topics like social media, technology use, and current events that have a significant impact on student well-being. Lessons teach life skills for the modern day to inspire high-character decisions that support the health, happiness, and future success of students, while capturing data that provides insights to school leaders to inform school policy and communications, and enable high-impact teaching and a healthy learning environment. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities.