Aaron Camillo, a student entering his second year at the University of South Carolina, checks his mobile phone as he leaves class.
His mother, Mr Camillo explained, is among his Facebook friends, “and every time I change my status she posts on my wall to see if I’m OK”. Other students in the hallway laugh and nod in recognition.
University administrators and faculty are less amused. For them, Mr Camillo’s mother is an example of a worldwide phenomenon that is causing unprecedented problems in the short term, and threatens long-term harm by forestalling young people’s adulthoods.
This argument is set out in full in a forthcoming book, a phrase from which is sure to give the trend a name: “iParenting”.
Take a generation of well-educated, highly motivated parents, say the authors, who have fewer children later in life. Charge students cripplingly high fees for university tuition, even as job prospects grow dimmer, in a world parents perceive to be rife with danger.
Then add mobile phones, email and social networking to the mix.