A journalist has revealed the grip YouTube has over children as young as four in his shocking new book.

Chris Stokel-Walker's 'YouTubers', published this month, is the first independent study into the effects and influence of the platform and multi-billion pound industry on young people's lives.

Mr Stokel-Walker spent months researching and talking to some of the biggest names both in front of and behind the camera to discover how deeply YouTube addiction runs for some children.

The Economist and Wired reporter found children as young as four are spending more than an hour on the website each time they visit it.

With worries raised about the kinds of footage available to children on the platform, 'YouTubers' asks important questions for adults about their children's online lives.

The Gateshead author, 30, said: “YouTube’s algorithm is designed to prioritise and lengthen watch time, and to keep people addicted.

“But this data is hugely insightful as to how our children and teenagers spend their time on the site.

“The addictive quality of YouTube and its impact on our society is something flagged up in YouTubers.

“What I found most surprising was that even at the age of four, more than one in eight children are spending more than an hour at a time on YouTube.

"That steadily increases, almost without exception, to the age of 18, when 36% of people watch videos for more than 60 minutes at a time.”

The data was compiled by the specialist firm Kids Insights and looked at the online habits of up to 20,000 young people.

The results reveal how deeply teenagers' addictions to YouTube can run.

Once on the YouTube site, only six per cent of teenagers spend less than 10 minutes watching videos on the site.

Most spend much longer watching online videos with 31.5 per cent spending between 10 minutes and half an hour, and a further 31 per cent between 30 minutes and an hour.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of teens spend more than an hour at a time on YouTube.

A total of 16 per cent spend between one and two hours on the site and one in eight watch more than two hours of videos at a time on YouTube.

Copies of the book can be ordered here .

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