This is despite strict rules which bar advertising during peak viewing times for preschoolers on free-to-air channels.
The Otago University survey of 160 Dunedin parents found 96 per cent restrict their preschoolers’ TV viewing, and 60 per cent were concerned about their children watching advertising.
Worries included fears that advertising encouraged materialism, pressured parents to buy products, promoted values at odds with family values and was unethical because young children could not distinguish fact from fiction.
Study author Dr Leah Watkins said the research was the first in New Zealand to investigate TV marketing aimed at preschool-aged children.
Overseas studies have shown that children as young as 3 can identify popular brands .