One internet-famous family is making waves on TikTok after posting a video featuring their five-hour-old daughter. Chantel Schnider of The Alexander Family, a popular family vlog account, went viral for uploading a video to TikTok featuring herself and her newborn having a “refresh” just hours after giving birth.
“Refresh with me 5 hours postpartum,” the text overlay reads on the video as Schnider enters her bathroom carrying a Moses basket.
The rest of the video follows Schnider as she uses a peri bottle to freshen up, washes her face (with suspiciously placed skincare products) and eats a snack from what looks to be a trendy nursing cart.
The video racked up 3.2 million views with several TikTok users in awe of this mom’s energy to film a video five hours after giving birth. Others took a more skeptical approach, questioning the ethics of featuring a child on the internet that is not even a day old for quite literally anyone in the world to view.
“Five hours postpartum I was half dead ma’am like HOW,” one user wrote.
“I still couldn’t feel my legs 5 hours postpartum. You’re like Wonder Woman😭💖,” another said.
Schnider replied, “That’s how my legs felt after my first! You did amazing mama, don’t compare yourself to me please 🤍this recovery was so different then my others!”
While several women were in awe of Schnider’s ability to be up and at ‘em so quickly after giving birth, others were sketched out of the motives behind the video questioning the morality of monetizing videos using newborns and kids in general.
“Awwww such a touching moment for so many brand drops,” one user said with some snark.
“Serious question does the ring lights hurt the baby’s eyes???” another asked.
“There’s no ring light or any sort of photography light for that matter lol,” the OP replied.
The video was also posted to Instagram where questioning and critique continued.
“You’re supposed to be resting, bonding. But you’re setting up a ring light and making content. Do better,” one user said.
“False, no ring light 🥰,” Schnider wrote back.
Several TikTok users created their own videos — stitching Schnider’s five-hour postpartum refresh — with pretty strong opinions about her content, damning the epidemic of what some call “sharenting.”
Sharenting, a combination of the words “sharing” and “parenting” is a term that can be traced all the way back to 2012. However, now with social media at our finger tips 24/7 and influencer culture being so prevalent, sharenting has taken in an entirely new meaning.
Sarah Adams, also known as @Mom.Uncharted on TikTok, is known for creating content surrounding parental oversharing, child exploitation, and minor safety on social media. She admitted to being tagged in Schnider’s video repeatedly, and after viewing some of Schider’s other content, she did notice something interesting.
“Now all of these videos have been posted since they had the baby,” she says, while showing The Alexander Family TikTok account.
“… and all of them feature the baby except for one, and I hesitate to say ‘ad’ cause there’s no paid partnership. There’s no ‘#bloompartner’ or anything like that, but that’s suspicious,” she continues while showing all of Schider’s skin care displayed perfectly on the sink with the product labels clear as day.
She also points out the same framing when Schnider snacks on something in the video.
She continued, “So, I’d love to hear your thoughts because, again, I hesitate to say ‘ad,’ but it feels very ad-like. It’s definitely promoting the products, and the baby is used in all of the videos I featured with the exception of one. A brand new baby already being used as content and a prop for the promotion of products. Doesn’t feel right to me.”
She added in the comment section, “From my understanding, in the acting world, babies must be at least 15 days old to be on set. But when the set is your home — five hrs old works 🙈”
Another user wrote, “I saw a video where the mom is showing a ‘realistic’ night w/ a newborn but has an extremely bright ring light on & wondering why the baby wouldn’t go back to sleep. It’s obvious she’s doing all of it simply for content and getting mad the baby isn’t working w/ her.”
That content creator TikTok user @krystianatiana, a mom who gains millions of views for her realistic “newborn nights” videos. In the viral videos, she timestamps her evening up with her colicky baby while she and her husband seemingly suffer all night long trying to get the baby back to sleep.
Unsurprisingly, her videos caught some flack from the TikTok community, especially in certain videos where it’s pretty clear that Krystiana is using a bright ring light to film her videos.
“Can imagine her waking up setting up the camera while the baby cries and everything going back to sleep and re-waking up for the video💀💀💀,” one user wrote.
“‘Why isn’t he sleeping?’ Maybe it’s the ring light in his face😭😭😭,” another said.
Another vlogger family, @alixandstephen, are catching flack for a now-deleted sharenting video they posted back in March 2022.
In the video, the couple take their baby, one day out of the NICU, to Target. The more jarring part of the video is when the dad holds the baby high above the hard Target flooring with one hand and the mom films.
One TikTok user stitched the controversial video, begging everyone to stop watching and supporting the financial gains of family vloggers who use their children as content.
“We have got to stop supporting these family accounts. We have got to stop supporting them. They are making tons of money using their babies as a prop,” Erin Monroe pleads in her video seen by nearly 1 million TikTok users.
“We’ve got to stop supporting them and the companies that work with them. That’s the only way that they’re going to stop doing this. There’s no other reason why they would be flinging their baby around the aisles of a Target the second that they leave the NICU.”
As social media becomes more and more ingrained in everyday life and most of us live our lives “chronically online,” more conversations have come up about children being used as content.
Now, the first generation of those “content kids” from influencer families are growing up, and a lot of them are mortified.
Journalist Kate Lindsay expanded on this idea for The Atlantic, writing, “In the United States, parental authority supersedes a child’s right to privacy, and socially, we’ve normalized sharing information about and images of children that we never would of adults.”
“Parents regularly divulge diaper-changing mishaps, potty-training successes, and details about a child’s first menstrual period to an audience of hundreds or thousands of people. There are no real rules against it. Social-media platforms have guidelines for combatting truly inappropriate content—physical abuse of minors, child nudity, neglect, endangerment, and the like. But uploading non-abusive content can be damaging, too, according to kids whose lives have been painstakingly documented online.”
Research backs this up. By the age of 2, 92% of American children have an online presence due to their parents’ activity on the internet. So, before a child can walk or talk or think for themselves constructive and critically, they already have a digital footprint that they can never erase.
Studies have shown that 74% of parents know at least one other parent who overshares information about their kids on social media and that one out of 10 parents share information about their children’s health issues.
Some progress is being made when it comes to children’s’ rights to their privacy. Lawmakers in Illinois have passed the first legislation of its kind in the country to make sure that the children being featured in any online content will be guaranteed a chunk of the profits.
The law, which is an amendment to the state’s existing child labor laws, entitles child influencers to a percentage of the earnings made from the content they’re featured in, and held in a trust until they turn 18.
If parents don’t hold up their end of the law, the law gives children legislative ability to sue their parents if the money is not saved for them.
While this one piece of legislation won’t be a hard end to parents exploiting their kids for cash, it’s a step in the right direction.