The Darien Land Trust and Darien Nature Center recently hosted the showing of a compelling documentary, “Play Again,” at the Darien Library. It is the story of a group of technologically savvy teens who are totally out of touch with the natural world around them.

“Play Again” shows “unplugs” kids on their first wilderness adventure, documenting their responses to living outdoors, in the woods.

At a time when children spend more time in the virtual world than in the natural world, exposure to nature is critical to their development and their overall view of the life on our planet.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is amazing. With a click of a button one can simulate climbing the Alps, take a trip down the Nile and watch a seal give birth on the Alaskan tundra. But, as one naturalist wrote, “nature is not the book on butterflies — natures is butterflies.

To that point, all of the books, megabytes and high definition screens in the world cannot take the place of being there — on the trail, at the shore, in the mountains or in your own backyard, experiencing nature first hand, in its pure form.

That today’s children spend more time online than in a tree, makes the work of the Land Trust — that of preserving precious open space — and the Nature Center – that of educating our children — even more important. Whether we take a school group through Selleck’s Woods to learn about the importance of preserving habitat or look for periwinkles at low tide, it is our mission to make sure that nature is not only alive in our children’s minds — but in their hearts.

Charles Jordan of the Conservation Fund sums up his concerns about this generation of children: “What they do not know, they will not protect. And what they do not protect, they will lose.”

The writer is executive director of the Darien Nature Center.