More than a third (36.5 percent) of Japanese men and women have used news aggregator sites, known in Japan as matome saito, according to a survey of 1,200 men and women aged 15 and over by leading Japanese public relations firm Dentsu PR.

Men are somewhat more likely (43.2 percent) than women (31.4 percent) to have used to such sites, which include Naver Matome, 2chan Matome and Matome wiki and have gained in popularity as a result of the need to find useful and relevant information in the huge volume of data available on the Internet.

Of those that had used the sites, 76.2 percent use them at least once a week and 18.5 percent were identified as heavy users with regular daily use. More than 30 percent of men in their teens and 20s and women in their twenties were identified as heavy users and 90 percent of men in their 20s—the age group with the highest usage—use the sites at least once a week.

By contrast, just 10 percent of men over the age of 50 were seen to be heavy users.

According to Dentsu, the survey shows that news aggregators “have become widespread among modern Japanese and are becoming established as a source of information…. With the introduction of social media the information distribution network has changed and news aggregators are one type of media that have accelerated that transformation.”

The top reasons cited for news aggregator usage were “to spend spare time” (48.2 percent), “the information is organized well and easy to view” (38.5 percent), and “covers wider range of topics than traditional media” (38.2 percent).

However, the differences become clear when broken down by age.  For teens and 20-somethings, “to spend spare time” is followed by “because they are fun,” showing how news aggregators have become established as a diversion for the younger Japanese internet users. The top reason that people in their 50s and 60s use the sites is that “the information is organized well and easy to view,” followed by “covers a wider range of topics than traditional media,” suggesting that aggregators supplement traditional media as an information source even for seniors.

“We are surrounded by an ever increasing flood of data, so we need to find ways to efficiently choose what we look at,” says the agency. “News aggregators provide stories in the perfect size for ‘spending spare time’ and meet the needs of modern net users.”