Emoji is the fastest-growing language in history – and it is ruining young people's English skills, research by YouTube has revealed.
Nearly everyone the video sharing website asked said they believed there had been a decline in the correct use of English
Of the 2,000 people aged 16 to 65 they surveyed, 94% agreed with the statement, with four out of five saying young people were the worst culprits.
The research found almost half of British adults were not confident with spelling and grammar
Nearly three quarters of adults now depend on emoji to communicate with each other, the research found
They also rely on spellchecks and predictive text to write.
Young people's reliance on the picture characters is so high that emoji are used six billion times a day
It has been described as the fastest growing language ever.
Chris McGovern, chaiman of the Campaign for Real Education and a former government adviser, said: "There has unquestionably been quite a serious decline in young people's ability to use the English language and write properly punctuated English.
"We are moving in a direction of cartoon and picture language, which inevitably will affect literacy.
"Children will always follow the path of least resistance.
"Emoji convey a message, but this breeds laziness.
"If people think, 'All I need to do is send a picture', this dilutes language and expression."
However, Edinburgh University researchers found emoji were helping people to feel included on social media.
After analysing a billion tweets they found people who chose to personalise their emoji normally changed it to their own skin tone.
Even when they changed the colour to a different skin tone from theirs, the majority of posts were positive.
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Emoji first appeared on Japanese mobile phones in 1999 and are now on the majority of phones, with new characters being added frequently due to demand.
In 2015 Oxford Dictionaries named the face with tears of joy emoji as its word of the year.