YouTube sensation Adam Beales has come a long way from the eight-year-old boy who used to prank his friends and video the results with his ancient Nokia phone.
The 20-year-old Londonderry man has amassed more than 2.7 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, employed his mum Edelle (43) and father Paul (44) and just this week presented them with the keys of a brand new house he bought them as a thank-you for their ceaseless support.
The success of his channel, which regularly features his parents as well as his younger brother Callum (11), has resulted in him appearing on Disney and CBBC programmes as well as working with the biggest brands in the world.
Adam, who at school was poised to continue his studies at Oxford or Cambridge University, loved entertaining from a young age.
"I was always interested in making videos," he says. "Even as far back as when I was eight or nine-years-old. I remember my first video. I used to record my friends going to sit on a chair. Right before they would sit down I would pause it and take away the chair and resume the video.
"I started making videos for YouTube in May 2015. But things didn't really take off until 2017. When I started off, the possibility of it being a career for me was so alien. I just really started it as a hobby.
"It was very slow to begin with. To be in any business, specifically YouTube, you need a lot of perseverance. I couldn't tell you how many times I was ready to throw in the towel just because videos weren't performing well or people just weren't watching them any more. I would start this toxic line of questioning where I'd think that it was me - do people like me, do people not like my personality?
I was in an all-boys school, starting a YouTube channel in my GCSE year. I got quite a bit of flak. I wouldn't say I was bullied, but there was repetitive making fun of me in the school
"Back then my family and friends enjoyed seeing me doing something different. But Derry mentality meant that I did get quite a lot of stick about it. I think in America and in the big cities, YouTube is more adopted into people's lifestyles. Whenever someone has a camera out people really don't bat an eye, like the way they might do here.
"I was in an all-boys school, starting a YouTube channel in my GCSE year. I got quite a bit of flak. I wouldn't say I was bullied, but there was repetitive making fun of me in the school. I guess it was more lads' banter than harassment. But I still felt it in a way and it was very hard to keep something up that you are getting stick for, especially at an age where you are very vulnerable. But I guess I just had to push through it. My little brother is going to school now and I wouldn't want him to go through what I went through.
"It's funny, some of the people who were making fun of me back then are the same people congratulating me now. I wish I could take a snapshot of that now and show it to them four years earlier."
Adam, who got 11 A*s in his GCSEs and became head boy of his school, was poised to apply for a place at one of the top universities - and even Harvard or other elite universities in the US were mooted for him to study Computer Science. He says he is glad his parents didn't push him down an academic path.
And it was during his first year studying A-Level maths, physics and biology that his YouTube channel really took off.
"I remember the month and year exactly when my YouTube channel took off," he says. "It was March 2017. I did a video that I thought would be funny in which I asked Siri (a virtual 'assistant' on Apple devices) different questions. There were a few questions that you could ask that would give funny responses back.
"I recorded it on a Friday and uploaded it on the following Sunday night. On the Tuesday night I was sitting on my bed doing my homework and my phone started pinging like crazy with notifications. I checked the analytics of the video and it had the biggest spike I had ever seen. It went viral from there.
"I don't know what happened. Maybe YouTube put it somewhere or it just chimed with the right audience. From that point every video I noticed an increased viewership and more people were tuning in.
It's fantastic, and for me to be in the position where I can actually hire my parents is just a dream come true
"It was a very exciting time. I remember going into school and looking at my phone and being amazed at what was going on."
Adam's channel took off from there. His family have since branched out and opened their own channel - Family 4 - and his younger brother has his own channel, Callum B. Adam's has had so much success that his mum and dad have been able to give up their full-time jobs and work for him.
"My mum worked in podiatry and left her work back in 2018 to work for me," he says. "And my dad left his job at Seagate in December to work for me also. So it has become, in a way, a family business. We have three channels - mine, my brother Callum's and the family have a channel. Perhaps not a lot of people realise it but with the three channels, it's quite a lot of work. Our days are full and we are always busy, constantly coming up with content, filming, editing, uploading, making thumbnails.
"It's fantastic, and for me to be in the position where I can actually hire my parents is just a dream come true."
Adam's success has certainly brought with it opportunities.
"YouTube can open up so many doors for people," he says. "I have worked with different brands such as Disney, the BBC, Smyths, Hotwheels, Skittles, all the major players out there, and it has been fantastic to be part of their campaigns.
"I had two successful series on the Disney Channel called Vlogger Takeover and I co-hosted The Dog Ate My Homework on CBBC, which was crazy because I watched that as a kid. I am working on a book at the moment - a graphic novel - and have a few other projects that I can't wait to announce later this year in terms of TV work.
"It's so exciting, even though it's not a timetabled job where you have office hours from 9am-5pm. When those exciting emails come through it is very rewarding - a camera and an internet connection can really change your life."
There is so much good feedback and positivity, but there are also some negative people and haters. But I think you have to have a tough skin
As well as his millions of followers on YouTube, Adam boasts 170k on Instagram, 226k on Tik Tok and thousands on Facebook and Twitter. Inevitably, however, with that level of following there are also haters and trolls.
"Anyone who is on the online sphere is guaranteed to get haters and negative criticism," he says. "There is so much good feedback and positivity, but there are also some negative people and haters. But I think you have to have a tough skin. With YouTube, people who make hateful comments actually have to click on your content to comment and that in turn gains me a view - so really they are helping me.
"A lot of the time it's keyboard warriors who would never say to you in real life the things they write. I feel better when I just ignore it completely. But I really do appreciate constructive criticism, because it's not a spiteful hate comment. I do read through the comments and messages and I do take on board if people say that they didn't enjoy a particular thing. I love that sort of rapport that I have with my fanbase."
He says fans have sent him some strange items over the years.
"I have a PO Box," he says. "I have mentioned in a few videos online that I like Fruit Pastilles, and I get sent them - a lot. I've been sent a Rolex watch which turned out to be fake. Someone sent fake poo. Most of it is very nice. I get a lot of lovely drawings. Some people send me vouchers and I feel guilty when people send me things that they have spent money on. I would rather they just send me a letter."
My parents understood the passion that I had for YouTube and kept motivating me to strive for more. I guess what really meant so much to me is that they believed in me
Adam says that he does love speaking to fans but that fans knocking on his door or posting items through his letterbox had become worrisome in recent years, making his family feel unsafe.
And one of the most satisfying things Adam has been able to do with the spoils of his success is to buy his parents a brand new four-bedroom house. A video of him surprising them with the keys to their new abode has amassed over one million views on his channel.
"I don't want people to get the wrong idea, that this house was just bought on a whim by some obnoxious vlogger during times like these," Adam says.
"This has been in the pipeline for quite some time now and it just so happens that the surprise takes place during these crazy times.
"However, I hope people can see that it was quite a long, up and down journey to eventually hand over the keys to my parents.
"My parents understood the passion that I had for YouTube and kept motivating me to strive for more. I guess what really meant so much to me is that they believed in me.
"It would have been easy for them to encourage me to stop YouTube and pursue university in the fear that YouTube may not work out. However, they believed in me and my decision and welcomed it with open arms. I am so, so thankful. And I'm incredibly grateful that I can help them."