Although the study of peer violence began more than 40 years ago, there are still many unknowns to be analysed regarding the relationship, similarities, and differences between bullying and cyberbullying. Bullying refers to a type of violence between peers, characterized by an imbalance of physical, psychological or social power, a repetitive, recurrent and continuous character of harassment, and an intentionality of damaging the victim. For its part, cyberbullying is defined as a form of harassment involving the use of electronic devices to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.

The aim of the present study is to review the conceptualization of bullying and cyberbullying to know the similarities and differences of both phenomena and to analyse their differential manifestation by sex. The study was developed following the documentary review method of articles, theses, book chapters, review studies and papers presented at conferences, available in the databases Scopus, Scielo, Proquest, Web of Science and Google Scholar.

In general terms, the two types of harassment are characterized by the development of violent behaviours of constant, premeditated and intentional harassment, based on an asymmetrical relationship of control and power-submission between the aggressor and the victim, and frequently perpetuated by the code of silence conduct of the minors involved. Besides, bullying and cyberbullying share the participation of three roles: victims or persons who suffer harassment, bullies or perpetrators, and bystanders or witnesses who are involved in the harassment. However, cyberbullying adds a fourth role, bully-victims, to refer to those people who in traditional harassment acted as victims and in cyberbullying as aggressors.

Although a priori, both phenomena seem to have similar repercussions, the peculiarities of ICT (e.g., anonymity, ubiquity, etc.) make cyberbullying a phenomenon with differentiated characteristics of bullying and, therefore, with risk factors and consequences not present in face-to-face harassment. Thus, in cyberbullying, aggression takes on a greater scope for a significant number of people who may have access to it (audience), immediacy in message transmission and continuity over time, and a high sense of lack of protection and helplessness in the victim. Also, it is harder to detect, and the aggressor is more likely to go unpunished by the anonymity offered by the internet.

Another difference is the manifestation of bullying and cyberbullying by sex, with bullying being a tendency for boys to act as bullies and girls as victims, and in cyberbullying, there seems to be no such distinction or even greater participation on the part of girls in the roles involved. These differences may be due to the dynamics underlying interpersonal relationships among young people.

The conclusions from the review of this study provide information about the reasons that lead children to participate in bullying and cyberbullying, as well as provide guidance in the development of effective intervention programs and prevention protocols adapted to the reality of each phenomenon.