Momcams on campus

To help parents keep track of their college offspring, some campuses are adding live web cams at key spots, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Bereft after moving her son into the freshman dorms at Cornell University a few months ago, Janet Hutchison found herself trawling the college’s website for clues to his new life. A click on the weather link told her that Dan would need a jacket. A click on the chemistry department’s Web page brought up the list of courses he’d have to choose from.

Then she found the school’s “Hi, Mom!” Web cam. With a few taps of the mouse, she could swivel a camera high atop Barnes Tower and zoom in on the granite benches outside the campus store. She giddily called Dan on his cellphone and guided him into position. Then, there was her boy – live, on her computer screen – looking every inch the collegian, in his jeans, polo shirt, and new haircut, blowing kisses to Mom.

. . . At the University of Rochester website, visitors home in on three open-air spots at the student union: the “Hi, Mom! Balcony,” the “Hi, Mom! Bridge,” and the “Hi, Mom! Closeup.”

In my first quarter at college, I didn’t get a phone. I had a single and didn’t want to pay the cost myself. Also, I knew I’d make few calls home because long distance was so expensive. My mother and I exchanged letters.

Nowadays, parents have trouble letting go and technology makes it very easy to keep in touch. Ron Stephany, vice president of university relations at the University of Redlands, says some “helicopter parents” never stop hovering.

“It’s not uncommon to be walking around and [hear] students on their cellphone, and they will literally be saying, ‘Hi, Mom, I just got out of my English class. I’m on my way to lunch.’ “

“By the way, Mom, how are you coming on that essay for my history class?”

Update: The flip side of total connectivity is the plight of “Blackberry orphans.” This story had me doing a parody check: Wall St. Journal, not The Onion. April Fool’s Day? No.

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  1. Richard Cook says:

    Jesus. Something is really wrong. I joined the navy, and in the course of earning my BA and MA I attended five colleges. My parents expected a weekly phone calls or a collect call when the ship was deployed and at a port (It’s 3AM in Jersey and I’m calling from Tunis, Tunisia). The tacit agreement was the parents had done the best they could, I am an adult now and responsible for myself. They just want reasonable communications for an update.

  2. Richard Cook says:

    As an addendum my parents were born in the 20’s and knew real hardship and that, in comparison to that time, life was hard but good and that I had advantages they couldn’t think of. They just wanted updates on the adventure (which is really how they viewed life).

  3. Hunter McDaniel says:

    Frankly this all sounds a bit creepy to me. My parents sent me a LETTER once each week and expected one back from me (which they got maybe once a month). Long distance was expensive, and only for emergencies.

    Colleges nowadays are somewhat schizo about their role. On the one hand, I can’t get my daughter’s grades sent to me directly even though I pay the bill. On the other hand, they install a webcam so I can watch her? Wierd.

  4. Put me down as one who sent a letter home about once a month and called maybe twice a month. By the time senior year came around the last place I wanted to be was home. Isn’t that the natural thing to do? Seems like the apron strings never get cut anymore.

  5. Of course, the momcams could also be extended to the clubs where so many students spend their time boozing….

  6. Oh, yeah, put the momcams in bars, and put speakers on them so the moms can make comments on the women their sons are trying to take home.

  7. greeneyeshade says:

    Sheesh. The title character in Doug Marlette’s comic strip “Kudzu” has an ultra-possessive mother who, among other things, plants video cameras all over town so she can never lose track of him. One more case of reality making satire look flat.


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